Rookie at work
There is a learning curve for an NFL rookie, but there’s a lot to learn and the curve is slight.
Aaron Mellette, former star wide receiver with Southern Lee High School and Elon University, has been with the Baltimore Ravens through rookie minicamp, organized team workouts (OTAs) and the full squad minicamp in his two months since being a seventh-round draft pick.
“You can’t help but be excited. Every day you walk into the (training) facility, you know you have a chance to improve yourself as an athlete and as a man,” said Mellette, who has jersey No. 13 on the Raven roster.
New information comes nonstop for the newest players on the defending Super Bowl champion.
“For rookies, each day is like day one again,” Mellette said. During full minicamp, it picked up. Mellette is confident he’s keeping pace.
On one hand, coaches made each minicamp practice, “two days combined into one as far as information.”
At the same time, “I feel I’m picking up on this pretty rapidly. It’s pretty much what I was expecting it to be. I’d heard how difficult it would be,” said Mellette. “Each practice becomes a little more comfortable.”
Baltimore’s coaches and staff give everyone respect, from rookies on up, but with professionalism, which Mellette knew coming in. It’s still different from football in high school or college.
“Going from high school to college, you see coaches want more things done a certain way,” he said. “And from college to pro, things are taught totally differently and they want everything done a certain way.”
It’s about more than Xs and Os, too.
“Coaches treat everyone equally. There are no favorites,” Mellette said. “They treat us like men. No one’s babied around at all.”
Minicamp came to a close last Thursday, meaning the official end to the offseason until preseason training camp for most of the Ravens. Rookies aren’t done yet though. All Raven rookies are going to the NFL Rookie Symposium in Aurora, Ohio this week.
The symposium, which is over four days, tries guiding rookies, largely through advice from past coaches and players, about making good decisions throughout their pro careers.Especially aside from minicamps, there’s some free time Mellette says. The rookies toured Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, and the nearby Sports Legends Museum, Maryland’s hall of fame.
The Ravens training facility, the Under Armour Performance Center, a 200,000-square foot facility on 32 acres with team headquarters, indoor and outdoor fields, strength-training area, a TV studio, meeting rooms and more, is in Baltimore suburb Owings Mills.
“Everything is state-of-the-art, from the equipment, to the training room, to help us stay healthy. It’s a five-star facility,” Mellette said.
The rookies are a team within a team. So is the receiving corps and the offense as a whole, says Mellette. While all on the same team, he knows it’ll change somewhat, shifting more to competitive and making the roster, once training camp starts.
Fifty-three players make an NFL roster and 46 are active on game day.
Baltimore’s preseason training camp gets underway on July 25. The first of four preseason games is Aug. 8 at Tampa Bay.