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Mirroring DRC

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 Cornerbacks Greg Toler (left) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have a discussion during a Cardinals' OTA last week.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler were bound to forge a relationship.

It started at the most simple level ? Toler, the rookie fourth-round draft pick is running behind DRC at left cornerback. Then again, the two were tied together in other ways. Their ?HBCU? roots ? playing at a historically black college/university ? at Tennessee State and Saint Paul?s, respectively. Their parallel journeys up NFL team?s draft boards after college ended. Their similar size ? DRC is 6-foot-2 and 182 pounds; Toler 6-foot, 191. The thought both could eventually emerge as very good NFL cornerbacks.

?I look at him and I?m like, ?Man, he looks like me a little bit,? ? Rodgers-Cromartie said. ?The more he works, he?s gonna be real good.?

They aren?t the same player, of course. Rodgers-Cromartie has already paid off his first-round draft status as the Cards? No. 1 corner. Toler, who unlike DRC was not invited to the NFL scouting combine, has much to prove.

His speed is impressive, however, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said he already noticed Toler making a play or two in the first week of organized team activities. In this early stage of his career, Toler has already found Rodgers-Cromartie and asked for advice.

?DRC just tells me, not trying to down the (small-school) HBCU, but in the NFL it?s about working on your technique more,? Toler said. ?You are used to being fast and more athletic. It?s about working on your technique. He said he was the same way when he got here and he just had to work out the kinks.?

The idea he is now doling out words of wisdom when he was just looking for help a year ago brings a smile to DRC?s face. ?I don?t have all the answers yet,? Rodgers-Cromartie said, although he does have a career path to follow.

Rodgers-Cromartie can tell Toler about the benefits of being worked in slowly. That was the plan of action for DRC despite his draft status. It seemed that Rodgers-Cromartie suddenly burst into a stellar role midway through last season, but it was all well thought out.

DRC admitted playing right away would have been ?complicated? for him. Instead, noted veteran cornerback Ralph Brown, ?when DRC got it, he became, I think, one of the top corners in a matter of two or three weeks.?

?I think Greg is the same type of player,? Brown said. ?When I saw Greg the first day, with his abilities and raw talent, I thought, ?This guy, he?s going to be great.? ?

The Cardinals can only hope for such a down-the-road scenario, with homegrown starters like DRC and Toler. For now, it?s unnecessary, with Bryant McFadden signed for at least two seasons to start across from DRC and the team?s defensive backfield loaded enough that Toler can take his time.

Toler said the message he has always gotten from his mother and brother is about patience, being great and not just good ? to master a craft. He senses the same concept from the coaches. ?It?s definitely crawl before you can walk,? Toler said.

And if there are any questions, Toler can still turn to DRC.

?DRC and I have a good relationship,? Toler said. ?I don?t know if it?s because of HBCU, but he?s always letting me know, ?Let?s do it and hold it down on the left side.? ?


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 5/24/09.

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