Experts say that the psychological side effects of a debilitating injury, such as an ACL tear, can be the last hurdles that an athlete overcomes in his road to recovery.
Tentative play, injury favoring and an overall lack of confidence are a typical part of the rehab process. But Redskins cornerback
“I feel really good," he said. "I’ve been taking care of my body, getting my treatments in and just glad to be able to come out here and play every day."
That's a bit of an unusual situation for Minnifield, who has weathered his ACL tear last year, as well as microfracture surgery that ended his final season at Virginia and cost him a spot in the 2012 NFL Draft.
“A lot of people can’t stand up to that. It makes me stronger coming back from my knee injuries two times," he said. "I know whatever happens out here I can handle it.
"The process of coming back is way harder than the process of playing out here."
During his time away from the team in the last five weeks, Minnifield said he worked out with his father, former NFL great Frank Minnifield, pushing cars and running up hills.
"That’s how I workout with my dad. He’s an old school workout guy so that’s how he trains me," he said. "I don’t even think about [my kee]. If I can do that, I can do this.”
Redskins fans and coaches are really getting their first healthy look at Chase Minnifield since he signed with the team as an undrafted free agent before last season.
Early indications are that he brings a nasty factor to the secondary.
"My game is physical. I’m playing the game I want to play," he said. "Disruption is what I want to do as a corner. No quarterback likes anybody who disrupts things. That’s what I bring.
"I’m an in-your-face, no-nonsense type of guy on the field. That’s just how I’ve been raised. Hard work pays off and that’s what I hang my hat on."
His battles with Hankerson in particular have been fun to watch as the old ACC foes duke it out on the practice field.
“Well you know me and Hank are good friends on and off the field so you know it’s just competition," he said. "We have good players back there, good depth back there so it’s good.
"Yeah I like [the intensity]. It makes it easy to come out here and play and compete. It brings your level up a notch."Despite hearing the ins and outs of NFL coverages as bedtime stories as a child, Chase Minnifield said that he comes in ready to learn and soak up as much as he can from the veteran defensive backs on the roster.
"I grew up with an NFL corner in my household, so I’ve always had knowledge of games and tips. It’s not too much newer," he said with a shrug. "But I just like to see how [my teammates] see it too."
One veteran that has provided steady guidance for Minnifield so far is veteran cornerback
Despite hailing from rival alma maters (UVA and Virginia Tech), Hall has served as player-coach for the youngsters in the defensive backfield.
"Making sure we’re getting the right stuff right and installs and just making sure I understand the defense," Minnifield explained. "That’s pretty much the biggest things [Hall] has been helping me with; just making sure I’ve got the nuances of the defense down."
Even with most defensive backs battling for starting jobs, he said the atmosphere has been very conducive to learning and improving as a group.
"Everybody helps each other, it’s a group back there," he said. "You just be the best player you can be and if you can play here you can play anywhere in this league.
"I’m pretty comfortable with everybody out there. I’ll put my skills up against anybody, not just on this team, but in the NFL. I’m confident in my abilities.
"I’m down to do anything for the team. I feel like I did before [my injuries]. I’m just ready to go out there and play."