In late January, Gooden tweaked the shoulder again, as he was seen walking with a sling around his arm.
But, when asked about how the shoulder feels now, Gooden playfully replies, "That ain't nothing but a myth, I'm back baby!"
Gooden certainly made his presence felt during Wednesday's practice as he made an athletic interception, while dropping back in coverage during an offense versus defense scrimmage-like drill.
However, the usually flamboyant Gooden had a more subdued reaction to his great play this time. Known for celebrating on big-plays—even receiving a 15-yard penalty against Wake Forest for flexing—Gooden has taken to a more subdued reaction now.
"Like my coaches say, when you make a play, act like you have been there before," Gooden said. "You did not see any of my arms going up, I acted like I had been there before. I want to just celebrate with my teammates."
And the quarterback that Gooden picked off—it is not even important to him. Gooden is focused on doing his job.
"I'm playing defense, so whoever they have got back there, I am trying to sack him and knock down his balls. When I am in the huddle, I don't even look to see who is in their huddle."
Gooden's goal this spring is to become a more versatile player. He does not want to be limited to just playing on the weak-side.
"I'm asking questions from my coaches, watching film, and talking to some of the other great Miami linebackers like D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma," Gooden said.
As for the linebacking corps, Gooden will have a lot of competition for the starting spots. Gooden is one of six linebackers who started at least one game in 2004, and that does not include Willie Williams.
"All of us are competing," Gooden said. "We are going to play hard, we are like a family. No one guy stands out to me, everybody is just coming out to play everyday."
As for Willie Williams Gooden jokes, "His name is Willie the Great, so we have got a name for him. The coaches are going to coach him up, and when I am around him, I am going to coach him up. He is going to be a good player for us."
During the pre-spring 7-on-7 drills, Gooden was impressed by the defensive line unit—specifically defensive ends Bryan Pata and Thomas Carroll.
"The D-line stood out," Gooden said. "The whole D-line is just balling-out right now. They are playing well, and if they keep playing well, we will have a chance to do our thing."
Gooden thinks that cornerback Devin Hester will have another breakout year in 2005. During the 2004 season, Hester dazzled for Miami's special team unit. Because he was still learning the defense, Hester only saw about 30 percent of the snaps, but still managed four interceptions. Gooden thinks that with a full year at cornerback, Hester can have even more of an impact.
"I like Devin Hester, because he will learn the position more and he has a chance to do his thing this year. I am looking for Devin Hester to have a breakout season this year at cornerback."
Next week is Spring Break for the Hurricanes, and Gooden doesn't have any big plans—he just wants to relax.
"I am just going to chill around Hecht, chill out with my family and my have a good time with my teammates."
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