Alontae Taylor still is learning the nuances of how to deal with the space, which is to be expected. The New Orleans Saints' season opener was his first NFL regular-season game as the team's nickel, and playing in the slot is different than playing cornerback.
"Outside corner, you have the sideline to help you out a little bit," Taylor said. "I feel like slot nickel is very much harder than playing outside corner, as for right now. A lot of space, a lot of windows that the ball can be thrown.
"But outside corner, you kind of know, 'All right, this is what I'm going to do, I have the sideline here so I can play this this way and this this way.' But in that slot, you can't play everything the same way, especially with the receivers that you have and the tight ends."
Taylor played the position more than satisfactorily in the Saints' 16-15 victory over Tennessee, and hopes to build on that performance Monday night, when New Orleans (1-0) plays Carolina (0-1) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
"He did a nice job," Saints defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "There's always some things you can get better at, but I think overall he did a nice job. We looked at the tape, easy corrections to make.
"But he has the type of ability that I like in there. He has size, he's quick, he's aggressive, he likes to tackle. He'll keep getting better every week."
Taylor, who finished with five tackles and a pass defensed, remains his own harshest critic.
"I feel like I played all right," he said. "I had some mistakes out there that were very noticeable, and some that nobody really knew that I made. But the guys picked me up and the guys corrected me on the sideline so when I went back out there, I was just as confident for the next plays."
But he has an unshakeable confidence that allows him to brush off errors and move to the next play. Prior to the regular season, New Orleans released Bradley Roby, last season's starter in the slot, which thrust Taylor into the starter's role.
"I feel like I'm here for a reason," said Taylor, New Orleans' second-round pick last year, who started nine games at cornerback as a rookie. "I feel like God blessed me with the ability, He blessed me with the brain to be able to go out and execute whatever it is I need to execute.
"So, I don't allow myself to get down for that. I understand that the coaches trust me and I have faith in myself. I just go out there and as long as I prepare the right way, on Sundays I let it loose and mistakes will be made, but I just try to make sure I learn from those.
"I really get down on myself in practice, because I make some mistakes in practice. But I feel like that's the time, that's where I can really beat myself up, where there's not a lot of eyes there, just the coaches. And then come Sunday I just go out there and play.
"So, I make the mistakes in practice, we have meetings afterward and they correct me and I just go out there and play."
And the more he plays, the more comfortable he gets playing a position with which he had little familiarity before this offseason.
"I don't think I have any anxiety anymore about the position," Taylor said. "I feel pretty comfortable with it. We kind of had a lot of plays in our playbook for this last game, our playbook is big, but I feel like we kind of hit the hard things that we will have to attack throughout the season. So now it's just the man in front of me, and competing against that person."