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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Mike Hughes taking the first steps at nickel corner

By Matthew Coller

Mike Zimmer’s school for first-round corners is already in session.

As No. 30 overall pick Mike Hughes settled in behind the podium to speak with the media following Minnesota Vikings’ rookie camp practice, Zimmer walked by and joked, “You’re a star corner now, huh?”

Hughes joins Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes as the other cornerbacks who were selected in the first round. Rhodes has become one of the top shutdown corners in the NFL and Waynes has seen significant growth over his three years under Zimmer.

It appears the Vikings’ rookie will have a unique challenge in trying to win a job as the team’s starting nickel cornerback. With Rhodes and Waynes locked in as the outside corners, it will be between 2016 second-round pick Mackensie Alexander, veteran Terence Newman and Hughes.

“I got to learn some inside corner, it felt pretty good,” Hughes said, only pausing slightly for Zimmer’s heckle. “Getting adjusted to some new techniques, learning from coaches, it was a pretty good day.”

In Zimmer’s school, Jerry Gray is one of his most valuable professors. The Vikings’ defensive backs coach is responsible for getting Hughes started in developing the technique and mental elements of playing both positions.

“They’ve welcomed me with open arms,” Hughes said. “Obviously, they trust what I can do and what I can bring to this organization because they drafted me first round. I love him. So far, he’s been very helpful. He’s the one who wants me to play some inside. So, I feel like he’ll be my best friend because I’ll be learning so much, outside corner, inside.”

In college, Hughes did not play nickel often. Instead he usually played on the outside against opponents’ top receivers.

“It’s just learning new techniques and just knowing where your help is and where you have help and also fitting in the run,” Hughes said. “That’s really the main difference than playing outside. For me, it’s not really too hard, I feel like I’m adjusting well.”

The post Mike Hughes taking the first steps at nickel corner appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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