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Five Years In, D.J. Humphries Mentors On The Line

Even D.J. Humphries sees the humor in the dichotomy, where the player once called "Knee Deep" by his coaches (a nickname Humphries was not particularly fond about, not surprisingly) is now doling out advice to younger players. At a recent OTA, for instance, he pulled rookie tackle Joshua Miles aside after a series.

"It feels natural because I always felt like it was my responsibility to give information," Humphries said. "I had so many people teach me stuff along the way. I never felt the need to keep it to myself. This is a team sport. You guys might get thrown into the fire at some point. I want them to know what I know. You can be a rookie out there on the field, but I don't want you looking like a rookie. That's a reflection of my (offensive line) room.

"I always felt like I'm supposed to leave this game better than I found it."

Humphries got into his NFL career very slowly. A rookie in 2015, he was inactive the entire season, unneeded with Jared Veldheer at left tackle and Bobby Massie at right tackle, even though Humphries was a first-round pick. That took some getting used to, and if anyone understands how a young player may take -- or struggle with taking -- advice, it is him.

"When you've been the man for so long, it's hard to fathom someone telling you to do something," Humphries said. "When I came in, I was like that. 'Why you all talking to me like this? I'm that dude, bro. Relax. I'm going to figure it out.' But you're a pup. You're back to square one. You have to be able to take coaching and understand this is a lot different than college."

Humphries said in this particular case, he was generally just letting Miles -- who played at Morgan State -- know the tempo and level of expectations now in the NFL. This is the time of year, of course, where mistakes are going to happen. Correcting them quickly are important. Humphries also said he passes along the message that, even though there may be some hard and harsh words heard, the player must filter the coaching through all that.

But, Humphries said with a smile, it'll be hard not to hear some harsh words.

"I want to make sure these guys get it," he said. "I'm going to do it right, and if you can't match my tempo, you're gonna get cussed out. It might not be by me -- I don't like getting cussed out -- but at a point and time, my fuse might get short. I'm a very patient person, and if I lose patience with you, you're really (expletive) it up."

DJ Humphries (right) talks to Joshua Miles.
DJ Humphries (right) talks to Joshua Miles.