WASHINGTON — Imagine getting to the NFL and asking, “Is that all you’ve got?”
That’s basically what Washington Redskins rookie linebacker Ryan Anderson has experienced so far, after surviving the team’s rookie minicamp, OTA’s, mandatory minicamp and the first week of training camp.
The second round pick (49ther overall), drafted out of Alabama is learning a lot and making good first impressions. But it just seems like he expected it to be more physical.
“Practices there were a little bit tougher than here,” he told the media with a half grin. “We do a lot of banging around there, so it definitely prepared me, physically and mentally, for this grind that I’m doing now.”
Even with the expanded NFL rosters this time of year, they pale in comparison to the swollen ranks of a collegiate team. Collegiate teams are able to be more physical, with more bodies to share the load.
Additionally, the last NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement legislated a lot of the padded practices in training camp. Anderson understands that the road ahead is increasingly physical.
“At this level, it’s all about protecting the players,” he said. “At that level, you’re developing players, still; you’re bringing players out of high school and you’ve got to see if they’re tough. You’re going to make them tough if they’re not. So we had a lot of team runs, a lot of blitz period, and a lot of bangin’ going on down there.”
But even without the physicality dialed up, the precision and talent level at practice is off the charts.
“The competition level,” he said of the biggest transition area. “I ain’t taking no reps against a freshman who is just coming in from high school. All of these guys are good and they’ve got families to feed. You have to go hard on every play out there and just try to get your foot in the door; get your feet wet and earn it.”
And from the sounds of his head coach, Anderson is impressing so far.
“Ryan Anderson’s finding his way right now,” Jay Gruden told the media. “[Anderson and linebacker Junior Galette] aren’t quite as vocal as they probably will be in the future and start to perform very well and play to the level that they think they can. Junior’s trying to get himself back in shape and Ryan’s trying to learn the system and find a way to fit in.”
The first preseason game of the year is just one week away.