Josh Holsey is happy to be where he is.
He almost didn’t make it.
The Redskins’ seventh-round cornerback was at the team’s rookie minicamp last weekend, getting praise from Jay Gruden for breaking up a pass during drills on Saturday, soaking up the atmosphere in an NFL team facility and trying to learn as much as he could.
He almost gave up the game before he ever had a chance to experience all that as injuries nearly derailed his career. In September of 2013 he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee while at Auburn. He worked his way back onto the field only to suffer a second ACL tear to the same knee in the second game of the 2015 season.
“I told myself I wasn’t going to play football any more after the second time,” he told reporters last Saturday. “I wanted to be able to run around with my kids, I was looking towards the future, not the present.”
RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS
But friends, family, and one of his coaches at Auburn persuaded him to reconsider. He decided that he didn’t want to live with the regret that might come with leaving football behind. And he dove into his rehab head first.
“Once I told myself I was going to come back, I was going to play, I was in rehab three times a day, I didn’t go on no spring break, did no partying, it was all rehab and focusing on getting my leg back strong,” said Holsey. “Once camp came around and the season rolled around I was ready to go.”
He played well in his last year at Auburn. Opponents targeted his coverage just 50 times and he defensed 10 passes and intercepted three. But he did not get a combine invitation and many analysts believed he would go undrafted.
The Redskins saw something in him and took him with the 235th overall pick. Jay Gruden congratulated him after he broke up a pass during practice and had some praise for him afterwards.
MORE REDSKINS: PROJECTING THE 53-MAN ROSTER — DEFENSE
“Watching him move around, it doesn’t look like he was hurt at all,” said Gruden. “He’s really quick in and out of breaks. He’s a competitor, you can see that. He likes to talk a little bit, as do I, so it’s a good match. We have a lot of fun with him. I think he’s going to be a good candidate for this football team. I know he ran around well in special teams drills, so we’ll see how it goes, but I was impressed with Holsey.”
Holsey did line up at outside corner some during rookie camp but he doesn’t expect to be there when OTAs start next week.
“I know when the older guys get here I’ll be more focused on inside because there’s a lot of guys outside,” he said. “But I’m going to know everything just in case I need it.”
There are a lot of guys both inside and outside. The roster is loaded with experienced cornerbacks. Josh Noman and Bashaud Breeland are set as the starters. Kendall Fuller was a third-round pick a year ago and they added another third-round corner this year in Fabian Moreau. Quinton Dunbar now has two years under his belt after he converted from wide receiver and the coaches like his progress. Last year Dashaun Phillips was on the nickel corner for a few games and he will be back to compete for a spot.
For his part, Holsey embraces the competition.
“If there’s no competition it’s no fun,” he said.
“You’ve got to come out here and compete. You’ve got to put your best foot forward every day.”