Mark Anderson Rookie Diary: Entry 2

Mark Anderson was not supposed to be this good this quickly. After falling all the way to the 5th round of this past April's NFL Draft, the young defensive end has been a surprisingly productive addition to one of the more talented defensive fronts in the NFL. In this week's installment of his Rookie Diary, Anderson talks about the atmosphere in prime time and learning from the sideline.

"It was quite a night at Soldier Field. We came to this game ready to make a statement, and I think that's exactly what happened. Although as a rookie I haven't played in any other nationally televised night games, I had a pretty good idea what to expect. The crowd was really into things from the opening kickoff.

"The energy level at the stadium was amazing, much louder than anything I heard during college games. As a defensive player, you really appreciate it when your hometown fans are making a lot of noise. Anything that disrupts the other team's offensive communication is a very good thing.

"I felt that our offense had a balanced attack tonight. The offense and defense were able to alternate enough so that one or the other wasn't out on the field for an extended period of time. That makes a big difference in your energy level by the fourth quarter.

"What you want to do is to go in there and keep pounding at the other team. You want to disrupt their rhythm and make them think before they move. That gives you the advantage of speed and attack.

"We expected a strong presence from Seattle, and that's what they gave us. Our job was to demoralize them as quickly as possible. You want to put so much pressure on the quarterback that he's throwing everywhere but the place he really wants the ball to go. That's what's best about a sack. Even a veteran quarterback will have some hesitation if he sees you across the line and knows that you'll be coming for him.

"You also want those receivers to worry about who is coming after them on the field. It's pretty difficult to catch a ball well if you hear footsteps. I suspect that if you check the stats from this game, you'll see that Seattle's offense wasn't anywhere near as effective as they had been just a week ago.

"I don't know what this game will do to our ranking within the division. Most of us try not to read any of the pregame or postgame media reports. I think that tends to put additional pressure on a player. We just practice hard, then go out and execute the way we know we can. If that raises our ratings in the eyes of the national press, that's fine, but to us as a unit, it doesn't really make that much difference. We are making our statement on the field.

"I felt fortunate to have made good plays when I was called upon. That's really the point of being a professional player. You need to be ready to come in and make an impact at any time.

"Rotating in and out of the lineup works well for me. I have no allusions that I am anywhere as good as Alex Brown. He's one of the guys I watch for pointers on how well this position can be played. It's fine with me if I can come in and give him a rest from time to time. That gives me game experience and lets him be fresh for the push that comes at the end of a game.

"What made the night even better for me personally was that my entire family was at the game. That's a great feeling to know those who are closest to you are right there watching the action. Then as a bonus, I'll have the opportunity to get some good home cooking while they are still in town. Nothing can help you recover from the physical demands of a game faster then the food you grew up with.

"Now we have a day off to enjoy the victory before its time to report to Halas Hall again and start preparing for Buffalo next weekend. Again this week, I am going to watch film and work on my technique. I was somewhat satisfied with my overall speed and reaction time, but those factors are so important, it's something you work on to improve always.

"I try to make each game a learning experience. I enjoy standing right along the sideline stripe during the game. It gives me the best view of the action and lets the coaches know that I'm ready to play whenever they might need me. I watch the other defensive players when I'm not in. It's surprising how much you can learn from just seeing them make their moves.

"It's been an exciting season so far. As we move into the 'second quarter' of our year,we're looking forward to more success. The team has the desire and the ability to do well. We're not just sitting back and letting things come to us. We know how much effort is required and we're ready to get the job done."


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