WESTFIELD, Ind. - Less than four months ago, rookie cornerback JuJu Brents and his family had gathered together at nearby Birdies Grillhouse and Sports Bar as they patiently awaited to find out which team would draft him.
Then, midway through the second round, Brents got a call from the Colts' front office to let him know that his hometown team was planning to draft him with the 44th overall pick.
As elated as Brents was at the time to get the call, that feeling of elation has turned into determination.
"It seems like it [Draft Day] was just yesterday," Brents said. "It moves fast. I had the opportunity to be in my hometown and share it with my family, all those close ones here just right around the corner at Birdies. It was a great feeling, but that's behind me now. It's time to get to work."
Brents officially clocked in for work this Saturday, when he participated in his first practice with the team.
"I've been real anxious to get out here for my first actual practice as an NFL player," Brents said. "It was a good day to get acclimated, get my feet underneath me and compete with my guys."
In the spring, a wrist injury prevented him from participating in OTAs and minicamp. Then, a hamstring issue prevented him from competing in the first six practices of training camp.
Colts head coach Shane Steichen has seen firsthand how hard Brents had been working to get back on the field and said it was good to see all of that hard work pay off.
"His first NFL practice, I know he's been grinding to get back out there so it's good to see," Steichen said.
Even though he had not been able to get onto the field, Brents said that he was still gaining valuable experience.
"A lot of people say that the game is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical," Brents said. "I would say for me, it's obviously learning our playbook and taking the next step forward and making those plays happen before they even happen. Just little things – little awareness. I got cut-split by the 'X' receiver, No. 3 [Amari Rodgers] to the field knowing I'd maybe get some sort of crossing route. Or just other small tendency things like that. So, looking more into those things and not just exactly what my job is."
Another way that Brents has been getting up to speed has been by picking the brain of the team veterans.
While he credits fellow cornerback Kenny Moore II as a valuable resource, he said that he's also learned a lot from an unlikely teammate.
"[I learn from] all the vets even out of my position group like Quenton Nelson," Brents said. "Just seeing his work ethic and the little things he does before practice. He bends and moves like a DB (defensive back), it's ridiculous. "So, just picking his brain as to why he does stuff."
As Brents' workload increases throughout training camp, Brents said that even though he understands that the speed of the NFL is different than college, he is confident that he will be up to the task.
"You got to be a little bit more intentional with pre-snap awareness – little things you see like that which will slow the game down for you," Brents said. "But for the first day, getting to see the speed – I feel like I'm a pretty fast guy. It is a quicker tempo, so you gotta read your keys and get locked in fast."