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Hughes 'Getting Adjusted' to Nickel Reps, Learning From Coaches

EAGAN, Minn. –It was a day of firsts for the first-rounder.

Mike Hughes, whom the Vikings drafted at No. 30 overall last week, put on his Purple jersey and took the field at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center for his first practice in the pros.

The cornerback also experienced a new position, moving inside to the slot a fair amount after playing primarily on the outside at Central Florida.

"It was a little different, I got to learn some outside corner. It felt pretty good," Hughes said about day one of Vikings rookie minicamp. "Getting adjusted to some new techniques, learning from different coaches.

"I haven't played much inside, but today I felt pretty good with what we've been learning, what we've been installing," Hughes added. "It's all about getting comfortable and getting comfortable with the guys and just trusting the coaches."

One of those coaches is Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, who is entering his fifth season in Minnesota but is well-respected around the league as a four-time Pro Bowl player and longtime coach.

"I love Coach Gray," Hughes said. "I love all the coaches on this staff. They've welcomed me with open arms. Obviously, they trust what I can do and what I can bring to this organization because they drafted me first round.

"I love him," Hughes said again. "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. Right now, he's been pretty good to me."

Hughes said he's working on learning new techniques for playing the nickel position. He emphasized the importance of "knowing where your help is" and "fitting in the run."

Although it's new, the rookie said he feels pretty comfortable with the transition and is adjusting well.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said after drafting Hughes that he would likely be utilized as a kickoff returner and compete at punt returning, as well. Hughes excelled as a returner for the Golden Knights and had his first go at a special teams session with the Vikings Friday afternoon.

He dropped the first ball during warmups but said the muff helped him get "the jitters out" and loosen up.

"After that I felt more comfortable and started looking the ball in and just being myself and playing football," Hughes said.

Hughes made reference to being "dialed in" a number of times during his session with media, emphasizing that he's focused on soaking in as much as he possibly can during this weekend and moving forward.

He's approaching rookie minicamp like a business trip.

"That way, when I get back with the vets I can kind of be a step ahead or on their same level," Hughes said. "[It's just] all about me getting comfortable."

Hughes would need to take a lot of steps to catch up to the experience level of Trae Waynes, who **re-signed with the Vikings*** *earlier this week for his 16th NFL season.

Hughes, who was 6 years old when Newman was drafted in 2003, said he's looking forward to sharing a locker room with the older corner.

"When he gets here, I'll definitely try to get him to take me under his wing and learn as much as I can. Hopefully he'll do that," Hughes said.  

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