James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer 323d

Dolphins rookie Cordrea Tankersley gains confidence after first start

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley couldn't believe his eyes in London Sunday after a 20-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

After being picked on and targeted by Saints quarterback Drew Brees for four quarters, the future Hall of Famer sought out Tankersley after the game to congratulate the rookie on how he handled the situation.

"[Brees] said he liked my competitiveness," Tankersley said Monday. "So just hearing it from those guys gave me a lot of confidence."

Tankersley, who was inactive the first two games, started Sunday ahead of veteran corner Byron Maxwell. The third-round pick said he was told midweek by his coaches to be ready to play a lot of reps. Maxwell also tweaked his hamstring in warmups.

It was not an easy spot for Tankersley. New Orleans wisely targeted the rookie and made it a point to match up Tankersley with Saints No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas. Six of Thomas’ eight receptions came against Tankersley, including a 3-yard touchdown catch from Brees in the third quarter.

Tankersley finished with five tackles and one pass defensed, which was nearly an interception in the first half. The rookie believes he has improved from the experience.

“I just took it and ran with it,” Tankersley said of his first NFL start. “There’s not too many opportunities you’re going to get. So I just took the opportunity and run with it. I was excited. You’re always going to be excited getting your first start, especially against a great quarterback like Drew Brees. So I was pretty hyped.”

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