Mark Anderson Rookie Diary: Entry 3

Defensive end Mark Anderson wasn't supposed to make much of an impact as a fifth-round draft choice. However, after five games, the former Alabama Crimson Tide leads the team with 5.5 sacks and has the inside track on NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. In this installment of his Rookie Diary, Anderson talks about dominating Buffalo and looks forward to Monday night in Arizona.

"It was a good game for the Bears, but I think that we all were very disappointed and frustrated that it wasn't a shutout. When we come onto the field, we want to make a statement. This comes from both sides of the ball, both offense and defense. I think that when these units are working together, your results will usually be what you are looking for.

"We did what we set out to do, which was to keep the Bills from scoring for most of the game and giving our offense the best field position possible. I think that everybody stepped up, which is the way you want things to be. I was in more than usual because both Ian Scott and (Adewale) Ogunleye were out.

"My job overall is to be prepared to come in at any time and to make an impact. I want my time on the field to count and to help the team in any way that I can. I am not surprised that I have been able to get some success. If anything, that just makes me want to work harder. I am a rookie, and I understand that I have a lot to learn. I stand on the sidelines and see what is going on at all times. That way, when the coaches call on me, I'll be ready to contribute.

"Although I try not to read media reports on the team, I have heard that the Bears have been characterized primarily as a defensive team. This is not the case in my mind. The offense is equally as important. We feed off of each other's success, and we work together as a team on both sides of the ball.

"I didn't see anything from Buffalo that surprised me. We were well prepared by the coaches the week before the game. The point was to shut down their offense immediately. In that, I feel we were successful.

"I never felt that there would be a letdown mentally after the win over Seattle, and that proved to be the case. We went out there and played as hard as we could to get the job done.

"This Monday, we are off once more as a way of celebrating the win. This is important for several reasons. It gives us time physically to heal and to rest up, and also mentally it gives us the opportunity to enjoy the victory and to refocus on the next game.

"Monday night, we'll be in Arizona playing the Cardinals. It is another national broadcast, which I think helps things go up a notch more in intensity. We will start watching the film on the Cardinals later this week. But before that, I want to review the tape from this game. I want to see exactly how I played so I can work on correcting any mistakes I made. I felt that there was a lot I didn't execute the way I wanted to.

"I think that after a game, especially as a rookie, you are very self-critical. You spend a lot of time thinking about what you could have done better. That's a good thing. If you are satisfied with your performance, then you'll never improve as a player.

"Winning is fun. It's an energy that builds on itself. What you need to be careful of is not getting too relaxed about the whole thing. That is something I don't see happening with this team. Everybody is putting the same effort as always. In fact, if anything, I think that we are working harder. You get certain expectations and you want to fulfill them.

"Having an away game at night will be a whole different routine. We each have things that we do at certain times during game days. This will change of course with the time zone and the late hour of the game. You want to be mentally and physically fresh when it's time to play. That means timing your meetings, your pregame routine, and your meals that day correctly. Luckily, I don't have to worry about all of that as the coaches tell us what we'll be doing when.

"At the end of Week 5, I'd say that the Bears are where they want to be. There is a long season ahead, and we know anything can happen. We are confident but not overconfident. There is still a lot of work to do. We'll need to be playing harder as the weeks go by.

"It is a longer season than I'm accustomed to from college games, but I feel my conditioning is good enough so that shouldn't be a problem. I can't wait to get out on the field in Arizona and get back to work. I have a lot to do this week, and I still have so much to learn about the game at this level. I want to keep contributing the best way I can and help this team win."

Mark Anderson writes his Rookie Diary every Wednesday exclusively for

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