The game against the Giants was a difficult one for us, to put it mildly. But the best you can get out of something like that is to learn as much as you can from it, then go on from there.
It was clear coming into the game that the Giants had something to prove. They played a great game. It made a difference that they were 1-2 and their backs were up against the wall. I'm sure they felt they needed to step it up. This was particularly true in front of a hometown crowd in a nationally-televised game. We didn't come out to play. It wasn't that we got blind-sided, but things did turn out far differently from what we had expected going in.
I was inactive last weekend, so I was watching what happened from the sideline. As the game went on, the main thing I was trying to do was observe tendencies in the Giants' offense. I'd also be keeping an eye on the Giants' defense to see what they were doing as far as trying to shut things down. When our defense came off the field, I'd talk to each of the guys and explain what I'd seen, what their protection was like, how I saw their running game. I hope that helped somewhat, at least.
I was also watching our defense, hoping I could see something from the sideline that they didn't see on the field. Both sides of the ball were putting a tremendous effort in on every single play. The defense shut down New York repeatedly. We knew we had to get the Giants' offense off the field as quickly as possible.
That's what kept the playing time of both our offense and our defense fairly equal, at least initially. If the Giants had a three-and-out, then our work was going pretty well. During the first three quarters, our guys were able to stop Eli Manning in a reasonable amount of time. That's also what kept the score at 3-0 through the end of the first half.
By the conclusion of the third quarter, it seemed to me that our defense was tiring. It's tough when you're out there play after play. You could tell that guys were working hard out there, and at times they were running on fumes. I can't speak for them, of course, but that's the way it seemed to me. That's the frustrating part, when you see something like that happening but there's nothing you can do to stop it. It was a discouraging night for us, and it's a game we'll all try to move on from as quickly as possible.
The Panthers will also be playing in front of a hometown crowd, and that's definitely something we'll be taking into consideration. I don't see any negative carryover from the Giants game into the Panthers game, though. I think each of our players will just go out there and try harder.
There have been some personnel changes here recently. I found out over the Internet that Mark Anderson had left the team. That was a surprise to me. He'd been incredibly helpful with me, as far as assisting me in learning this position. I will always appreciate the time and the effort he put in to help me get better. I wish him all the best.
I think what you have to realize, especially as a rookie, is that this is a business. Players come and players go, and it's up to you to adjust to the new situation as quickly as possible.
I've been asked if losing Mark improves my chances for being activated for the Panthers game. That's not really my decision. It's up to the coaches, but, as always, I'll be doing my best to be physically and mentally ready if and when they call on me.
What I've been working on during practice is the pass rush. This is my main focus all of the time, really, because you can't be good at this position unless you can go after that ball as quickly as possible. The other thing that I am paying attention to is my overall level of conditioning. I've heard about the "rookie wall," where the new guys who are accustomed to a shorter college season come into the NFL, then are exhausted midway through the year. I'm trying to avoid this by eating well and resting as much as I can when I am not at work.
One other question I had was about the play of Julius Peppers. Do I try to model myself after him, or am I just trying to develop my own technique?
That's an easy answer: Nobody can do what Julius does. That's why he gets paid those big dollars.
What I want to do is develop my own style that works as well for me has his style works for him. If I can become that productive, that intimidating on the line, I'll be very happy.
One more thing: Anybody watch the Northwestern game? That's my "Cardiac Cats" in action. Good effort, exciting win. I've been keeping up with my former teammates there, and I'm really happy for them individually and for the team's success.
Now we're off to Carolina. It'll be a hard-fought game, but I know we will be confident and well prepared. If I get the chance to play, it'll be great. But if not, then I'll learn as much as I can and wait until the coaches think I'm ready.
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BR Rookie Diary: Wootton, 4th Entry
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