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Terence Newman Grooming Trae Waynes, Young CBs for Success

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –It's a code among brothers.

For Trae Waynes, it's important to make sure those coming through the NFL ranks behind him are as prepared as possible.

"I think the best test of a man is if you can pass on knowledge to someone who you're competing with," Newman told Jim Rome as a guest on ***The Jim Rome Show*** earlier this week. "If they can take your job, then that's more respect to them."

Newman, who turned 38 this month and is the oldest defensive player in the NFL, said he's never thought twice about helping the younger cornerbacks be the best they can be, even though he recognizes they're vying for his starting position. He said he'd prefer that someone take his job than for him to have an edge on understanding.

"If I had that advantage, I don't think I've been doing my job," Newman said. "We all have the same goal – we want to start, we want to play, we want to win games, we want to win the Super Bowl.

"If that guy's better than me, then so be it," he added. "That's his right. He's earned it."

When the Vikings drafted Trae Waynes 11th overall in 2015, Newman immediately took the cornerback under his wing, saying he received the same support from older players when he was drafted in 2003. According to Newman, Waynes' growth throughout the season was impressive.

"He became very comfortable to ask me questions about how I play some things or why I did something," Newman said earlier this spring. "It was awesome because he became very hungry. He wanted to get better, and to me, that's like the ultimate compliment for a player – somebody who wants to learn and get better. [Trae] has every bit of that."

Newman's selfless mentality paid off in dividends in Week 1 when Waynes made just his second NFL start, stepping in for the injured Xavier Rhodes.

The 2016 season marks Waynes' second year of learning from Newman, and advice he's gleaned from the elder defensive back helped him to be prepared when his number was called. Waynes led the Vikings in tackles at Tennessee with 12, only seven fewer than he had in the entirety of 2015.

Waynes also added a tackle for loss, a confident second-quarter play on third-and-1 that took Titans running back Derrick Henry down for a 1-yard loss and forced Tennessee to punt on the next down. The play illustrated one way in which Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has seen Waynes improve.

"Sometimes when guys come in, I'm not sure they understand how hard it is to play that position – understanding the professional game, understanding the rules of the professional game," Zimmer said Friday. "I think that he's come a long way with his confidence, his technique. He's done a good job really all the time."

Waynes said he's grateful to be learning from Newman, who has extensive experience not only in the league but in Zimmer's defensive system after spending time with him both in Dallas and in Cincinnati before reuniting in Minnesota in 2014.

"I feel lucky. He's pretty much like a second or third coach out there," Waynes said. "A lot of times when I filled in for him, he coached me right after every play. That's something that as a young guy, I'm not taking for granted."

While Newman acknowledges that starting a 14th season is an accomplishment, he doesn't dwell on it. He chooses instead to continue working to improve in whatever way possible. Even with 13 years under his belt, Newman believes he can always finds ways to be better.

Over his career, Newman has racked up 869 tackles (686 solo), 40 interceptions, 183 passes broken up, 24.5 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and 11 fumble recoveries. He's been to the Pro Bowl twice (2007; 2009) and named NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice.

But he's not satisfied.

"Honestly, I just want to win a Super Bowl," Newman said. "That's my goal; that's the one thing that's eluded me in 14 years."

He added: "That's how I want to be remembered – as a Super Bowl champion."

Newman hopes to win a championship ring along with a number of his veteran teammates also nearing the end of their careers. He said it would be difficult to walk away without a Super Bowl victory, but he also doesn't take for granted all the experiences and successes he's had.

"I think we'd have to look back and think that we've had a chance to play this game that not everybody has a chance to play."

As Newman keeps working to pursue that ultimate goal, he will also continue mentoring Waynes and his other cornerback compatriots to help them be the best they can be.

"In life, you have to think about what you can do to make your impact," Newman said. "It's just life. Football is life, so I'm trying to get better every day."

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