Put yourself in Zach Cunningham's cleats: as an inside linebacker in this Texans defense, you'll be next to Benardrick McKinney or Brian Cushing. In front of you are the likes of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. On your flanks, it's Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson and Kareem Jackson.
You're surrounded by talent, and it's your first year as a professional.
"It's been a fun experience for me, coming out here and showing what I can do, playing around with a bunch of talented guys," Cunningham said. "Playing for a great team, it's been great for me."
Currently listed as third on the depth chart behind starting WILL inside linebacker McKinney, and backup Brian Peters, Cunningham has quietly tried to absorb the Texans defense. A standout performer at Vanderbilt, the second-rounder said he's adjusting well to the step up in competition.
"Just going up another level, playing with guys helping me get up to that next level, learn what I have to do, what it takes to be a pro-baller," Cunningham said. "That's something that I really appreciate and I feel is going to help me in the long run."
Cunningham and the Texans will play their first preseason game on Wednesday in Charlotte against the Panthers. When he's in the game, he'll have to get the defense in the correct alignment. He said he's learned a lot about that from third-year linebacker Benardrick McKinney.
"For sure," Cunningham said. "I've got a lot of mentorship from him. Getting to stand behind him, see how he plays the game, how he coordinates things on the field and stepping in that position of linebacker."
Cunningham and the Texans will practice on Saturday at The Greenbrier in West Virginia before taking a day off on Sunday.
Check out the best shots from Day 9 of training camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.