With experience has come confidence for Nate Hobbs going into his second NFL season.
Hobbs had a standout rookie season that was a pleasant surprise for many, but not necessarily himself. Despite being a fifth-round pick out of Illinois, Hobbs held himself to high standards that resulted in earning a spot at starting nickel cornerback. The quiet confidence he carried within himself is what got him through his rookie season, and has continued to help him get better.
"I don't think if you don't believe in yourself, you can't play at this level," Hobbs said Wednesday. "I think it's got to be predetermined before you step on that field that you've got to believe in yourself."
The second-year player credited his teammates for helping him take strides in Training Camp – which included the other defensive backs in his room and the loaded receiver corps taking shape in the Raiders offense. A huge factor in the progression of Hobbs has been the arrival of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams. Many times in practice, Hobbs stepped up to test his skills against Adams, which has ultimately helped both players in the process.
"He's, if not the best, one of the best players – not even just receivers, players in this league," Hobbs said of Adams. "If you want to play at a high level and that's my opponent I get to matchup with, why not get those reps?
"I can't give thanks enough to him, DC [Derek Carr], whether it's Darren [Waller], Hunter [Renfrow], Tae [Davante Adams], T-Billy [Tyron Johnson] – every receiver. Our receiving corps is pretty good. ... They're amazing. They got my game more polished."
The competitive fuel that drives Hobbs has also been noticed by his coaches in his one-on-one drills. Jason Simmons, the Raiders defensive backs coach/pass game coordinator, sees a lot of potential in Hobbs' growth this upcoming season.
"He wants to compete. That's the one thing about Nate that nobody can ever question, his competitive spirit," Simmons said during camp.
"We see Nate as a football player," continued Simmons. "That's why you see Nate being moved around to utilize multiple positions. He's also an aggressive player. He's a competitive player. He wants to do more. He wants to learn; he is a true spark."
While Hobbs has seen success in the NFL, he still remains grounded, realizing he still has a ways to go to develop into the player he wants to become. His day-by-day approach to the game and daily experiences will only help his confidence rise as time rolls on.
"I don't think anybody has done anything by just being confident at it. You've got to get more experience and reps at it," he said. "I'm not going to say too much, but I'm definitely going to do my thing."
View the best photos from Thursday's practice at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center.