Tennessee Titans rookie cornerback Roger McCreary has been learning on the fly throughout the first four games of his NFL career.
After winning the starting job over Caleb Farley this offseason, the rookie cornerback has received a lot of playing time to start the year, something he's very familiar with having been a two-year starter at Auburn.
However, unlike the majority of his time in the SEC, McCreary has primarily been lining up in the slot as the Titans' nickel cornerback.
This is relatively new territory for the talented defensive back. According to Pro Football Focus, McCreary never played more than 39 snaps in the slot during a season of his entire collegiate career.
The former Tiger was mostly featured as an outside cornerback during his time at Auburn. McCreary flourished in that role, becoming an All-American in his final season in which he received PFF's highest grade among every FBS cornerback (89.9).
Unfortunately, the nagging groin injury to last season's primary nickel, Elijah Molden, has forced the rookie to play on the inside more than he's used to.
The Titans' defensive back has only accounted for 40 coverage snaps on the outside as opposed to the 110 coverage snaps he's played on the inside, per Sports Info Solutions (SIS).
On Wednesday, McCreary talked about the learning curve he's experienced with playing in the slot so far in his young NFL career.
The rookie defender emphasizes that he's learned a lot through this trial by fire even if there have been some visible growing pains.
According to SIS, McCreary has been targeted 15 times when he's lined up in the slot, resulting in 10 receptions for 99 yards (66.7 completion percentage) and one touchdown.
He's also recorded one defensive pass interference penalty that netted 36 yards for the opponent.
In total, McCreary has allowed an opposing passer rating of 107.4 when targeted out of the slot, a massive increase from the 75.0 opposing quarterbacks have when he's been targeted on the outside.
Chances are McCreary will line up outside more once Molden returns from injured reserve, but the experience he is gaining is invaluable for his long-term development.
Every rep he encounters, regardless of the outcome, has the potential to become a valuable lesson for him to learn from.
The former Auburn star has an extremely bright future ahead of him. It will be interesting to see how his maturation process unfolds as the weeks, months, and years pass by.
Story originally appeared on Titans Wire