BR Rookie Diary: Evan Rodriguez
Chicago Bears rookie fullback Evan Rodriguez discusses his appreciation for the fans, his first-ever NFL playoff push, this weekend's battle with the Green Bay Packers and more: "It's a big week coming up, a rival game with the Packers. We're ready to go and get this thing done. "It's frustrating to have lost so much in the recent past to Green Bay. It's the kind of situation where you want to straighten things out. "I think we're all delighted that we're playing Green Bay at home this time. The fans at Soldier Field are incredible. We know that they are behind us and that gives us a little extra push. Make it loud this weekend guys. You're an important part of the game. "I have one thing I'd like to say to the fans who also travel to see us play. You don't know how meaningful that is. I can think of few other teams in the league that get support like that. "No matter where we are playing, we get the feeling that we're home. Speaking for myself, I love to be on the field in a different city and suddenly hear the crowd shouting ‘Let's go Bears.' I look into the stands and see so many people wearing blue and orange. I can tell that it irritates our opponents so please keep it up, fans. That's great and we appreciate it. FB Evan RodriguezFrederick Breedon/Getty "The past couple of weeks have been difficult. It's the kind of a situation where you just want to put the bad stuff behind and get back on the right track. The number of injuries to starters hasn't helped a lot either. "I think the important thing that you lose initially when a starter goes down and a replacement comes in is the communication. It can take a few plays before the guy coming in is on the same page. We've been working on rotating players in and out quite a bit in practice recently. The more reps we all get, the better. We want everybody actively involved in the process. "I've been asked how I view my first year in the NFL. I guess I'd just say that coming in, I didn't know what I didn't know. "I've learned so much during this rookie year. I go back mentally to where I was as recently as last September and I laugh at myself. I came in here thinking I was a good football player. "Just being here has taught me so much. The vets have always been willing to offer their assistance when I've asked. I've learned how to study film at the pro level and how to prepare for these games. It's similar in a sense to the college experience but so much more is asked of each player in the NFL. I want to be sure that I can deliver the type of play the coaches and fans expect. "Going forward from here, the mindset here at Halas Hall is positive. We are taking the remaining games one by one. I think it's unproductive to look much further ahead than that. You get your job done each week then you move on to the next opponent. You analyze your mistakes and correct them for the upcoming Sunday. You want to stay motivated and positive at all times. That comes from not second guessing yourself but at the same time, trying to improve from week to week. "Physically I am feeling good. That's a huge credit to our trainers, our conditioning team and the dietitians. There is so much involved when you are working your body this hard every week. It's much more demanding than college ball ever was. I work hard, rest any time I can and eat well. I follow their instructions to keep my body in optimal shape. So far it's working. "There's a lot of history in the rivalry game coming up. We don't like each other much and both want to come out with the win. I try to ignore all the chatter going back and forth between the players but you can't help but pick up some of that. It's my first year here so I'm enjoying all of it and learning about the rivalry as I go along. "It's a good scenario, playing at home against a team you dislike. We always have something to prove since the object is to go out there and win. The results recently haven't been what we wanted but that is no reason things can't turn around now. We're going to come out strong and give it our all." Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.