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Xavier Rhodes relates to Trae Waynes' NFL adjustment

If there’s one player on the Vikings roster that can relate to rookie cornerback Trae Waynes, it’s Xavier Rhodes.

Like Waynes, Rhodes was a first round selection known for his aggressiveness coming out of college. He went through his own struggles after leaving Florida State in 2013, but Rhodes flashed his All-Pro potential last season in his first season under head coach Mike Zimmer.

So naturally, Waynes has approached Rhodes about the growing pains he’s already experienced in coverage three months into his career. Rhodes said the hardest adjustment he had to make as a rookie was playing within the NFL rules.

“Within those five yards not trying to be too aggressive, that’s by far the hardest thing that you can adjust to in the NFL,” Rhodes said. “You have to be technique sound here in the NFL. In college, you can be more aggressive down the field. In the NFL, you have to be able to work your feet more than your hands.”

Waynes, the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft, was flagged twice for defensive holding and once for pass interference in his first preseason game, but he hasn’t drawn a penalty in the last three Vikings’ friendlies. The transition period is far from over, however.

Last week in practice, Waynes was flagged for pass interference during an 11-on-11 period. He was in good position to contest a deep ball but grabbed the receiver’s arm right when the ball arrived, causing the sideline official to reach for his yellow handkerchief.

Rhodes was only flagged once as a rookie during the preseason, but he drew two flags in his first regular season game — an illegal block above the waist and a pass interference penalty. He drew six penalties in 13 games played his first season.

But as time progressed, Rhodes improved his technique and had a better gauge of how to remain aggressive yet play within the rules. He finished last season tied for fourth in the NFL with 18 passes defended.

“It’s going to take time,” Rhodes said. “[Waynes] asked me when I grew out of it, and I said after the 30th flag. After a while, you’re like, ‘Something’s got to go. Something’s got to change.’ I said eventually you’re going to grow out of it, and you’ll eventually find yourself. Just don’t pressure yourself into trying to force [out of] it because the more you force it, the worse it’s going to become. Just let it come naturally, and once it does, you’ll be good.”

Rhodes is also very familiar with the media, social media and fanbase hype that can surround a first round selection. He was selected with the 25th overall pick in 2013, one of three first round picks for the Vikings. There’s often an unrealistic expectation that every first rounder must have an immediate impact, which is far from the truth. Rhodes stressed that Waynes, who was the first cornerback taken in the draft, shouldn’t focus on all the external pressure he will face in his career due to the draft.

“You have to stay focused, stay on your path and set your own expectations to the point where you can only disappoint yourself,” Rhodes said. “You want to go out and have expectations for yourself and not listen to all the hoopla and all that because that can distract you from your team goals and your self-goals.”

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Vikings make first roster cuts, Teddy's impressive preseason stats and more

Every weekday, we walk you through what’s going on with the Vikings.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— The Vikings made their first round of roster cuts yesterday, and tight end Brandon Bostick and running back Joe Banyard were among them.

— Rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks was all over the field against the Cowboys. That and four other takeaways from Saturday’s 28-14 win.

— Gerald Hodges “felt natural” in his first-ever start at middle linebacker, and it showed. He had a team-high four tackles, including one for a loss.

— The Vikings wanted to get wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had been having a quiet preseason, the ball the other night. But that beautiful deep ball from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t in the script.

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

— Former South Dakota State star Zach Zenner shined again in preseason play and looks to have secured a spot on the Lions’ 53-man roster.

— One Chicago Tribune columnist said it’s hard to find a reason to feel good about the Bears’ chances. Might quarterback Jay Cutler actually be one?

— Tests have confirmed that wide receiver Randall Cobb did not suffer a major injury the other night, so the Packers can exhale.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings are back on the field today after yesterday’s day off. Coach Mike Zimmer is on the podium at 11 a.m. Practice starts at 1 p.m.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

In about four quarters of action over four preseason games, just six of Bridgewater’s passes have hit the turf. His completion percentage of 82.9 is a Vikings preseason record. It’s impressive stuff. There is some danger in small sample sizes, though, especially when talking about preseason numbers. Quarterbacks such as Sam Bradford, Alex Tanney, Blaine Gabbert and our old friend Matt Cassel are also above the 80 percent barrier. Still, tossing Bridgewater’s gaudy numbers aside, there has been a lot to like about how the second-year QB has performed. He’s making the right reads quickly and is getting most of his throws on the money. Will he accomplish his goal of completing 70 percent of his passes during the regular season? That is going to be tough, but I’d surprised if he didn’t top 65 percent.

Today's Scoreboard

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  • Detroit

    Toronto

     

    - F

    2

    9

  • LA Angels

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    2

    9

  • Boston

    NY Mets

     

    - F

    4

    5

  • Kansas City

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    2

    3

  • NY Yankees

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    20

    6

  • San Diego

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    9

    4

  • Colorado

    Pittsburgh

     

    - F

    5

    0

  • Miami

    Washington

     

    - F

    4

    7

  • Seattle

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - F

    5

    6

  • Cincinnati

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • Houston

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    5

    7

  • Baltimore

    Texas

     

    - F

    0

    6

  • St. Louis

    San Francisco

     

    - F

    7

    5

  • Oakland

    Arizona

     

    - F

    7

    4

  • Chicago Cubs

    LA Dodgers

     

    - F

    2

    0

  • Indiana

    Tulsa

     

    - F

    70

    76

  • San Antonio

    Los Angeles

     

    - F

    52

    60

  • Connecticut

    Chicago

     

    - F

    72

    68

  • Phoenix

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    61

    71

  • Washington

    Seattle

     

    - F

    59

    69

  • Portland

    Seattle

     

    - F

    1

    2

  • D.C.

    New York

     

    - F

    0

    3

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