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With Focus On 'Little Things,' Daron Payne Experiences NFL For The First Time


The Washington Redskins' first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft got a sample of the coaching he'll receive from Jim Tomsula during this past weekend's rookie minicamp.

After going through months of NFL Combine-style drills and workouts, Washington Redskins defensive lineman Daron Payne was finally able to get back on the field this weekend at the team's annual rookie minicamp at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

It also marked the first time Payne was able to work with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, known for his ability to maximize talent through hands-on instruction.

"Coach Tomsula, he's going to get after it every day and he's going to push me to be the best every day on and off the field," Payne said. "So I'm excited about it."

While it was just the start of his time working under Tomsula, Payne said the veteran position coach focuses on all of the fundamentals that gets the best of players' talents.

"He's just all about work," Payne said. "It's the little things. He focuses on the little things like staying low and getting your hands inside, so I need all that."

Payne, of course, was selected with the No. 13-overall pick in this year's NFL Draft after a stellar career at the University of Alabama.

In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Payne appeared in 44 games and recorded 102 tackles (five for loss) along with six passes defensed, three sacks, two fumbles recovered, one fumble forced and one interception.

He capped off his collegiate career recording six tackles in a 26-23 victory over the University of Georgia in the National Championship Game.

More than four months after that game, Payne was finally able to return to the field this past weekend.

"I'm feeling excited," Payne said. "It was a bunch of fun…I just wanted to show that I can take the playbook and just take what we learned from [meetings] and use it out here."

While Payne's role will become more clear in the coming months when he gets into more of a flow with his veteran teammates, the expectation for the Birmingham, Ala., native is that he'll be an immediate impact player alongside 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Allen.

Throwing him in there with Jonathan will be a big plus for both those guys," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "They've played together. They know each other. They both have a similar skill set and I think they will be productive side-by-side."

Payne's also ready to show what he can do after smooth contract negotiations, as he became the first 2018 first round selection to sign his rookie contract last week.

"It was probably something you've seen on a movie or something," said Payne of signing his first NFL contract. "You're just getting to relive it. It's just a bunch of fun and something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

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