2014 training camp is much different for right tackle Bobby Massie than it was in 2013.
Last year, after a rookie campaign in 2012 in which he went from awful to really good, he struggled in the offseason only to see the team sign veteran Eric Winston, who took the starting job away from Massie.
This offseason Massie has improved and now has a ton of confidence. "It's mine," he said about the starting right tackle job.
"I got the opportunity to showcase what I can do and basically it's my spot to lose," he explained.
His biggest problem a year ago was mental errors. He said that "he struggled with it" because he was learning a new playbook and wasn't getting it in the time the coaches wanted him to. But with a year under his belt in the system, he was able to improve. "I fixed (the mental errors) in the spring in OTAs and mini-camp and everything, so (I just need to) keep that going."
Massie learned last year that "nothing is given to you."
He explained that, after playing very well the last 10 games of his rookie season, he entered camp "still coming off that kind of high" of being "a top three tackle in pass protection in the league."
"It was a learning experience for me," he said, going through the new experience and then losing the job to Winston.
But he doesn't feel any extra pressure and he isn't backing away.
"It's no pressure," he said. "I put myself in this position, so the only person who can mess it up is me. I'm perfectly fine with it. Just play ball."
He was a young man who was very happy with his offseason accomplishments and confident in his abilities.
"This is my year to showcase what it is I can do."
Everyone is waiting for that to happen.
At right guard, a much quieter Paul Fanaika has thus far held off Earl Watford.
"It's no secret it's a competition," Fanaika said after practice on Saturday. "I'm out here with the mindset that, like Bobby, it's my job to lose. I just want to come here every day and work on my craft. It's an opportunity to get better."
He spoke of consistency and said that his biggest improvements this offseason have been at "being a lot faster at processing information."
So while entering camp, it looked like right guard and right tackle were going to be hotly contested positions, it might not be that. Yes, there is always competition, but when you have two guys that consider the job theirs to lose and working to keep it that way, it isn't nearly as intriguing as when the job is wide open.
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