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Chris Rodriguez plans to stick to his identity

07292023 Training Camp EF00149

This time last year, Chris Rodriguez Jr. was a student-athlete at the University of Kentucky. Now, he has completed his ninth day of NFL spring training camp with the Washington Commanders.

This 23-year-old sixth-round pick is known for his trademark power running, which is what caught coaches' eyes in Washington. As a running back, the ability to combine speed and strength means the opportunity for serious yardage.

Rodriguez's style worked well at the college level, where he averaged 193 yards per game in and broke a university record for his 20 100-yard games. His ability to push through traffic worked well in the NCAA, and he knows that some of skill set will need to change if he wants to have a long NFL career.

But as Rodriguez tries to make a name for himself in the professional ranks, he doesn't want to drastically rework his identity as a player.

"I don't feel like that'll necessarily change. It's who I am, and it's what got me here," Rodriguez says, "I feel like I do need to add…one cut stuff."

The Washington Commanders wrapped up Week 2 of training camp with another practice in full pads. Check out the best photos from Friday morning.

Rodriguez knows his strengths and wants to stick to those abilities while advancing his game by tapping into the guidance of the team's experienced running backs. Aside from being able to work with Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has high hopes for what Rodriguez can bring to the team.

"This is a guy that Eric was very high on," said head coach Ron Rivera. "He's a guy that Eric thinks will most certainly have a role for us on the offensive side. Adding a physical player in Christopher is a guy that, talking to Eric and what Eric wants to do and how he wants to use him, in Eric's mind, this is a guy that will fit what he wants. And so we're pretty excited about being able to pick him. We had a higher grade on him, too as well. So, we thought we got a lot of value here."

From the veteran players down to the rookies, there are expectations on what they'll deliver on the field, even on practice days. And every time Rodriguez comes onto the field, he's ready to dedicate a consistent effort to earn his spot daily and continue to push towards his dreams.

He can do so through quick learning and adjusting on the go, even while the team tries different plays at camp. Whether it's individual skills drills or a 11-on-11 drills, Rodriguez comes in ready to work and brings in the physical nature that sets him apart from most in his position.

"It's been my dream for a very long time, so I didn't change anything about me, but I just know it's business," Rodriguez says.

While so many dreams are coming true for Rodriguez, he's not taking the position he's in lightly or for granted. He spent his off-season working on preparing himself for this change.

"You can get cut in the NFL any day, so as far as preparing myself, it was doing what I needed to do to keep my body right, keep my mind right- whether it was just doing some self-meditation on some days," Rodriguez said.

Being able to prioritize his mental health is especially important for a player's first year in the NFL, as it's a drastic change in pace and resources. Rodriguez's ability to prioritize his mental health can help as he progresses with his career.

And since training camp began, Rodriguez has continued to improve and deliver for coach Bieniemy's expectations.

While Rodriguez will continue to look into the minor details of improving his staple skills, he's found himself on a team with high hopes for his future. As Rodriguez grows, his place in the larger picture of the Commander's offense will become clearer.

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