IRVING, Texas – It's funny how quickly a handful of practices can acclimate a young player to a new culture.
Devonte Holloman, like every other Cowboys rookie, went through 12 professional practices in May and June before breaking for the summer. By any measure he is still an unproven newcomer, but it certainly felt like a lot for the South Carolina product.
"The guys that have been here, the guys that have played – they set the tone pretty early," Holloman said. "From the first day of OTAs, they showed us young guys what was acceptable and what wasn't acceptable. Now we pretty much have the speed and the pace of practice down pat."
It'll be interesting to see if Holloman feels that way in a little less than a month, when the Cowboys begin preseason training camp. But there's no denying the sixth round pick got into the mix early on in his rookie campaign.
Holloman was brought to Dallas mainly as a special teamer, though that's not to say he didn't get any looks at his dream job of linebacker. As one of 11 linebackers on the preseason roster, Holloman got several looks at the linebacker corps, where he had a chance to impress.
"I'm still mainly focused on special teams, but evenly focused on defense," he said. "I see my opportunity, and I'm just trying to learn what I can from guys like Justin Durant, Bruce Carter, Sean Lee – great guys to learn from – soaking up as much as I can, and trying to make plays out there."
Regardless of where he's lined up in practice, however, Holloman knows multiple eyes will be on him. The former Gamecock noted the importance of performing well for special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, even when he's not working with special teams – an astute observation for a rookie. [embedded_ad]
"The coaching staff does a good job of pushing everybody, whether you've been here four years or you're a rookie," Holloman said. "He expects nothing but the best, he watches every drill you do in practice, not even just special teams-wise. He knows what your fastest drill looks like, and if he doesn't get that out of you he pushes you."
The workload seems to suit Holloman just fine through the early going. The real test is still a month away, but spending the spring at Valley Ranch is an experience Holloman said should help him when it's time to put the pads on.
"It's a different level starting with the coaches – their mentality toward everything is totally different from college and even rookie camp," he said. "The players as well – being in there with a lot of good athletes, but also a lot of smart guys – it kind of pushes you to take your game and your mindset to the next level, as well."