Terence Newman played right into what his teammates had been saying about him.
The 13-year veteran and first-year Minnesota Vikings cornerback has become known as the best diagnostician of receiver routes in the team’s backfield and he proved it in the last fully padded practice in Mankato on Wednesday. Working in individual drills on Wednesday, Newman was covering the speedy Mike Wallace. When Wallace cut for a comeback, Newman was already cutting before the receiver and in perfect position for the interception of Teddy Bridgewater.
“That was one of the ones where I got an indication. He did something and let me know that he was about to stop and I told him about it. It will help him next time,” Newman said. “It was one of the one times I’ve seen him do it. He doesn’t do it very much, but this one time I saw it and I just benefitted from it.”
Later in practice, during full-team work, Newman was the recipient of a deflected pass intended for Jarius Wright. Newman made another interception, and, finally, a third one on a pass intended for Adam Thielen.
After Thursday’s practice, one that head coach Mike Zimmer called “terrible,” Newman said he couldn’t remember how many interceptions he had the previous day. But he also deflected the notion that he knows every route a receiver is running.
“I wish I did that because if I did that then I’d probably have a lot more picks and I’d be going into the Hall of Fame. I just try to play football and have fun with it,” Newman said. “I don’t necessarily know all the routes the guys are running. Sometimes you get indications on different routes that you might get and sometimes you get lucky, I guess.
“You don’t know what they’re going to run, but they know what they’re going to run. You’ve got to just play football. You’ve got to react. At the same time, there’s only a certain amount of routes they can run from certain positions on the field. That’s kind of how you can determine different routes that you’re going to get. It’s kind of a process of elimination. You get past 5 (yards), obviously you’re not going to get a hitch. You get past 10, obviously you’re not going to get a curl. You get to points and you’ve got to have routes start going through your mind and understand what you can get.”
It’s all part of the veteran savvy Newman brings to the position. Working in my Zimmer’s defenses in Dallas and then in Cincinnati, the coach was all too familiar with Newman’s knack for the routes coming at him.
The 5-foot-10, 197-pound cornerback said he believes he’s always been pretty good at the diagnosing routes, even as a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I think it’s just a feel thing, if a person feels it and they feel confident,” he said. “It’s not like I’m saying you can’t actually do it, but it’s a process of elimination and you’ve just got to understand what routes you can’t get.”
Newman isn’t keeping his tactics to himself. He figures one of the reasons he was brought in was to help the younger defensive backs.
“That’s pretty much my job as a 13-year vet. I think part of me being here is to help the development of these younger guys,” Newman said. “When I first came into the league, I had guys that helped me. They gave me as much information as possible. (Defensive backs) are a fraternity. It doesn’t matter what team you play for. We all respect and cheer for each other because it’s the hardest position on the field. We just try to give as much knowledge to anybody we can.”
When he was in Dallas, Newman had young influences like Darren Woodson, Mario Edwards and Roy Williams. He also would occasionally talk to Deion Sanders about the finer points of the position.
Now he’s passing along the knowledge.
“He’s always giving pointers as far as what to expect, how to cover certain things and he’s played in Zim’s defense for many years so he knows his press technique better than anyone,” cornerback Josh Robinson said.
“He’s awesome. He’s a great vet. I’ve told my brother since Day 1 of meeting him, that’s a vet. That’s a true vet. That’s the type of vet I like, just from his mindset, the way he approaches every practice, the way he approaches the competition in the defensive room. It’s a job and everyone’s trying to win a job.”
Newman also talks with the receivers about what he sees, any “tells” he is getting from them and asks the same in return so he can correct his missteps on the field rather than waiting until he reviews the film.
At this point, Newman appears to be the starting left cornerback. He’s been there since the start of offseason work. He’s held off Captain Munnerlyn, last year’s starter opposite Xavier Rhodes. He’s still in front of first-round Trae Waynes.
Still, he didn’t have the expectation that he would be the starter when he signed a one-year deal with the Vikings.
“I had no expectations. I expected to come here and compete and let that do whatever it did. As far as me coming in and saying, ‘Oh, I’m a starter Day 1,’ I never had that in my mind,” he said. “My thing was, let me come in, let me see what I have and compete. Let me help these young guys and if I play well enough, so be it. Expectations are something that you expect to have a good season, you expect to make the playoffs. But as far as what you’re doing in the position, all you do is expect to compete and compete at your highest level and everything else takes care of itself.”
Newman’s veteran knack obvious with Vikings
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