Bradley, who was a second round pick for the Bears, certainly is no stranger to big time programs, having played two years for Oklahoma after starting his career at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. His father, Danny, who is now Mark's agent, was a quarterback for the Sooners. He spent ??? years in the NFL and tried to prepare Mark for his Chicago debut.
"My dad told me just the other day ‘stay cool, enjoy yourself,'" Bradley said "But even he got pretty excited as we got closer to this first time on the field. I'm sure that we'll have a lot to talk about once I get back to Bourbonnais and have a chance to talk to him."
Bradley is right in the thick of the hotly contested battle for playing time at wideout, which is exactly where he'd hoped to be at this point of training camp. He gives his views on life in camp and his prospects for the 2005 season:
It's been an adjustment, that's for sure, coming from college to the pros. I don't care how well prepared you think you might be, there are going to be some things that you just don't expect. One of the first things every rookie learns is that the pace is different in the NFL. You have so much to learn and it has to be understood quickly, both on and off the field.
We have intensive classroom times, then we go out and work through what we have seen diagrammed in the coaches meetings. I think that in some ways, it's helpful to me that there are so many WR right now. We are all working on the same thing and sort of feed off of each other.
I've felt that I've progressed since we came down to Bourbonnais but I'm not nearly where I want to be. My goal all along has been to become a starter for the Bears. I won't be satisfied until that happens. I'm figuring our exactly what I need to do to make tit to that level. ‘Moose' tells me to be patient, but I'm sure he felt exactly the same way when he was a rookie.
Since joining the Bears, I've paid careful attention to my conditioning and to my weight. That was important when I was playing at Oklahoma, but it is a much bigger thing here with Chicago. It is something Rusty Jones and his staff stresses for all of the players. We have to be able to move quickly and consistently and not get tired. I think that's particularly important for receivers. If you can't get to the ball before your defender, you're going to get burned.
I heard that things are much more intense this year as far as conditioning than they were last year. The goal is to avoid injuries while getting into the best possible game shape. Recently, I've felt that I'm moving better and am quite a bit stronger than I was in minicamp. I know I have a long way to go, but I am headed in the right direction.
In our practices we are on what we will need to be ready for the preseason and eventually the real thing. With the Miami game coming up Monday, the pace is getting quicker everyday. What I want to do when we are playing in Canton is get out on the field and show the coaches what I have learned so far. Confidence in my abilities has never been a problem for me. I feel strong and ready to get the job done.
What I've enjoyed most about camp so far is getting to know the guys on the team and meeting the fans. When you are in a training camp situation, you are with your teammates all day every day. It's a good way to learn about them. It's also helps with the communication. If you can't talk to a guy, it's hard to play with him. We're all in this together and if we work as a team things will turn out well. Camp goes a long way in creating that kind of an atmosphere.
As far as the fans are concerned, I get excited because they are excited. You can tell that they enjoy being around us and seeing us improve. It's been a while since we've had a winning season, and just seeing all of these people cheering for you, you want to do well for them.
I think we should have a good season. Rex Grossman throws harder than any QB I've ever played with. We have a group of talented guys on offense and defense. If we can keep everybody healthy it should be a great fall. I know that I'll enjoy every minute of it and contribute any way I can.