After spending last season on the practice squad, five first-year veterans had the opportunity to go through meetings and drills with the incoming rookies over the weekend.
As dozens of new faces descended upon Redskins rookie minicamp last weekend, several familiar ones were already waiting for them.
Players who were designated to the practice squad last season had the option to partake in meetings and practices with this year's crop of incoming rookies, so running back Mack Brown, center Austin Reiter, defensive end Corey Crawford, offensive lineman Cody Booth and offensive lineman Takoby Cofield decided to take advantage and play "veterans" for the weekend.
For most of them, the two days returned them to their sophomore years in college – they felt much more comfortable and confident, knew the ins and outs of the building and the playbook and knew exactly what the freshmen were feeling trying to cram and adjust to a new place.
"The best way to put it was that it was a circus," Reiter remembered of his experience last year as a rookie. "Being a new draft pick, everyone's looking at you and all eyes are on you. I think the pace of everything was a lot faster, a lot of chatter. This year, you learn it is a business and you learn you have to go out there and do your job."
Crawford said the camp wasn't necessarily easier this time around, but he knew what he was getting himself into, while Brown used it as an opportunity to re-familiarize himself with the playbook and hone the finer details of his job.
"I felt good," Brown said. "More evaluation on me -- just go show up. I learned more of the offense, because last year on practice squad it's kind of hard to learn the plays. But right now I feel pretty comfortable in the offense. "
"It's a good confidence builder," Reiter said. "Going into OTAs everything is relearned, I get to go out there and feel what the second year feels like and what it feels like to know everything like the back of my hand and have that feeling that the plays and the communication are all slowing down."
The Washington Redskins offense held their second rookie minicamp practice of 2016 on May 14, 2016, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
Serving almost like a counselor, Reiter's experience gave him more responsibilities under offensive line coach Bill Callahan. He made guard and tackle combination calls, part of a transition in knowing where everyone is on the field and that the game is slowing down for him.
For Crawford, the experience also had its share of nerves. Imagine having a year of experience in the NFL and getting showed up by a rookie on his first day. That fear served as motivation throughout the weekend for the first-year vets still trying to make an impression.
"Yeah, that's the pressure of the whole thing," Crawford said. "You've been here for a year, that's the good part, but then again when you're out here with these guys who just got here they shouldn't be doing better than you because you know the plays more or outshining you by putting you on your back. So that's the pressure part about it, knowing you have to be the best guy."
"Oh it's always nerve-racking, that's just this business," Reiter said. "If you aren't living on the edge with it then I don't think that's right. You have to have the mentality that someone is always trying to take your job."
And so, for coaches, this weekend was also an opportunity to sense the mood from their returners. Crawford said he could have pouted about being deemed a rookie again, but disregarded those negative feelings to look at the opportunity in front of him. Brown, for his part, felt obliged to give some advice to his fellow running backs.
Brown specifically spoke with tryout running back turned free agent signing Kelsey Young from Boise State. Brown was in his position last year with the Texans and made an impression with head coach Bill O'Brien.
"If you catch the ball go 20 yards downfield," Brown said he told him. "If the coach tells you 10 yards, go an extra 10. When you do 1-on-1s, make sure you win and go the extra mile because anything is possible."
Of course, that message was just as important for himself, and every one of the first-year veterans.
"Take one play at a time," Crawford said. "You try to think too far ahead or you stay on the last play you aren't going to be effective. Keep it one play at a time and everything will fall into place."