Rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, Atlanta's fourth and fifth round selections in the 2015 NFL Draft, spoke to the media following Saturday's rookie minicamp practice, and the rookies shared their thoughts on the transition to the NFL and more.
Justin Hardy is a man of few words, but he seemed pleased with how the second day of rookie minicamp had gone. "It went pretty good," Hardy said. "I'm just getting out here, getting back to football. It's been great."
Hardy said he had moved on from the excitement of being drafted, and that he was moving on from the draft to focus on being the best player he can be. He said that grasping the playbook and studying film are key. "Just getting the playbook -- it's a new playbook for me," Hardy said. "Just getting in there, studying film and just getting with my coach and seeing what I can do better."
Many expect Hardy to operate out of the slot, but he said he's able to play outside as well. "Definitely my route running and my hands, my blocking, just giving effort on my plays," Hardy said regarding the skills that will help him succeed at this level.
Roddy White and Julio Jones are certainly two great role models for a young receiver to learn from, and that's what Hardy plans to do. "It's definitely the system, you know? They've been here," Hardy said. "They're where I'm trying to get, so I'm definitely going to be a sponge around them, just try to soak everything up."
Hardy is enjoying working with receivers coach Terry Robiskie. "He's a great coach," Hardy said. "Fun guy. He's one of the coaches that you want to play for." He's also adapting to the speed of the game and the expectations for speed during practice. "I guess that's the level of the NFL, that everything's moving fast, and so you know you've just got to go out there and do it," Hardy said.
Fifth round selection Grady Jarrett felt his second day of minicamp was better than the first. "I feel like today was a better day than yesterday," Jarrett said. "Yesterday I kind of got in the swing of things, but I did feel like I had a better day today. But it's just a dream come true being out here at Flowery Branch, at the Atlanta Falcons' facility. Couldn't be in a better situation, so I'm just extremely excited to be out here." For what it's worth, Dan Quinn said following practice that he felt Jarrett had a good first day of minicamp, also. It seems like Jarrett just holds himself to a very high standard.
Quinn is really driving home the need for speed on the field with the pace of practices. "We definitely want to play fast here in Atlanta, so that's how we're going to practice," Jarrett said. "Everybody's getting in shape at the same time. Even when somebody gets to the ball first, we're still running to the ball, swiping at the ball. So playing with fast tempo at practice is key for our success when we play."
Jarrett has a familiar face in rookie minicamp with him in college teammate Vic Beasley. "It's definitely good having Vic here with me. When you know somebody somewhere, it just makes it that much sweeter," Jarrett said. "But me and him both, we just -- it's really exciting to be part of this organization, both being from Georgia. And [we're] really happy to meet our new teammates and look at how far we could take this thing. So we're trying to get better every day, taking our coaching, and it's just really great being here with a defensive-minded head coach, a great d-line coach like we have. So we're just trying to get better every day."
Jarrett was referred to by many as "the steal of the draft," but he's moved past that and is focused on football. "I'm just happy to be here in Atlanta. The draft, that's a thing of the past, man," Jarrett said. "You control what you can control. What I control is how I do out here and just trying to be a better player and help this team win. So it's all about trying to help this team improve and me making the most out of my situation right now."
The tragic news about the house fire Jarrett and his family experienced on draft weekend had a happy resolution, as everyone escaped unharmed. "Yeah, you know, definitely a difficult situation, but we're going to be alright. We're good. Everybody was safe, and that was the most important thing," Jarrett said. "Any material thing we could replace. But other than that, I'm focused. We're moving on. We're doing the best we can right now, so everybody's good."
Of all of the rookies, Jarrett was the first to sign his contract. "You know, it's really comforting to have that done, but at this moment, man, I'm just trying to focus on becoming a better football player, and with all the things going on at the house, it's Mother's Day tomorrow, I'll probably do a little something," Jarrett said. "But at this point, the main focus is just coming out here every day, getting better."
Bryan Cox, with his engaging personality and colorful language, is a fan favorite. Players love playing for him, too. "Man, I love Coach Cox," Jarrett said. "I had an opportunity to work with him a little bit before the draft in my local workout, then to come here and actually have him coach me every day is good. He demands the best, and he's getting it out of us every day."
Cox doesn't hold back when correcting players, and Jarrett's been on the receiving end of some of that correction already, but he knows it's for the best. "That's just making me a better player," Jarrett said. "You get here and you realize you've got a lot of work to do. So I'm glad I've got a coach like that, that's going to get me better."
Jarrett was asked if he realizes that Bryan Cox is a little bit nuts, and he answered affirmatively. "A little bit, but you've got to be to play this game. You've got to be to play this game," Jarrett said. "And one thing I can say about Coach Cox, he loves the game of football. He loves the game of football, and I couldn't ask for a better situation."
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