Washington Redskins linebacker Will Compton admitted that he was slightly nervous during the first few plays of his first career NFL start last Sunday, but that once he got a few plays in, he was at his best.
"I was nervous," he told the media this week. "It was just calming my eyes down, believing what I see and things like that. Those type of jitters, knowing how I'm capable of playing and things like that, but it wasn't too bad."
The Arizona Cardinals wanted to test Compton early, going at him several times on their first couple of drives. But the second-year Nebraska product held his own, acknowledging that it "was a good feeling" knowing he could compete with the Cardinals' top offensive weapons.
"Anytime you get a play at you and you're able to be around the ball, not get the completion on you, it was a good feeling," he said. "You just allow yourself to try to get more in rhythm of the game. I thought there was a couple of run fits where I fit it right, but watching myself and knowing how I'm capable of playing. …I think it was a lot better as the game went on I got more comfortable in it."
Compton would finish the game with two tackles and a hit on Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.
The start was quite the reflection of his hard work over the years paying off.
Going undrafted after a productive career at Nebraska, Compton signed with the Redskins last season as a college free agent.
After spending the majority of the 2013 season on the practice squad, Compton made his first career NFL appearance in Week 17.
Playing alongside the likes of guys like Ryan Kerrigan, Keenan Robinson and Brian Orakpo in the starting lineup last Sunday, Compton said he felt at ease knowing that there were several talented players with him.
"Everybody knows their stuff and it's always nice having them out there," he said. "Especially when you have a guy [Robinson] that knows their stuff just sitting there communicating the whole time in case he lines up wrong, I line up wrong.
"We can talk to each other, say 'No, the call's coming down this way,' and adjusting off each other. But I thought we played well off each other."
After playing an all-around solid game, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Compton is "really reliable" and he's "not going to make too many mistakes."
"I think from a confidence standpoint, I think he can go in and you don't worry about Comp messing up," he said. "He's going to do the right thing all the time.
"Was he a little nervous? Yeah, his first NFL game, free agent, was on a practice squad, so I know he was a little nervous early, but I thought he settled down and played pretty well, especially in the second half."
Moving forward, Compton said that regardless of if he gets another start or is providing relief for Perry Riley Jr. and Robinson, he's hoping to apply the lessons learned from his first career start.
"Whenever I get my second opportunity, I'm just looking to build off that start," he said. "And make even bigger strides. There were some jitters in the first quarter, but something to learn from and build from."