Mark Anderson Rookie Diary: Entry 7

Defensive end Mark Anderson finally cooled off a little bit after his sizzling start, going sackless in back-to-back games. He got back into the swing of things last Sunday in a win over the Jets when he took down Chad Pennington. In this installment of his Rookie Diary, Anderson discusses last week's win, the crowd noise at the Meadowlands, and his plans for Thanksgiving.

It was a good win last weekend, and to have won two in a row at the same stadium was a definite plus. The trip to New Jersey wasn't a big deal in terms of the distance. Traveling to someplace further away, like Arizona, was much more difficult. Going to the Meadowlands twice in two weeks made it more of a familiar situation the second time we played. I think that factor was to our advantage.

Although we were well aware of the Jets 'muddle huddle' offense, we weren't as effective against it initially as we wanted to be. When we saw that we weren't getting the desired results during the first part of the game, we changed our strategy accordingly, and things seemed to go well from that point on.

I think that one of the most important parts of having success as a defense is being able to come to the sidelines and know that the coaches will have come up with something more effective if necessary. Sometimes just a small adjustment makes all the difference. From that midpoint of the first quarter on, we felt more comfortable, and were able to accomplish what we wanted to.

The crowd wasn't too much of a factor. It was quite similar in fact to the previous week when the fans were relatively quiet. This past week, that was probably due to the fact that the Jets were unable to score. Perhaps if they had gotten something going, the noise level would have been quite a bit different.

When I wasn't on the field, I spent my time watching our offense go to work. This team supports each other that way. If you look along the sidelines during a game, you'll always see that we're cheering for each other. Also, as a player, it's important to have your head completely in the game at all times. You need to be aware of exactly what is going on no matter whether our offense or defense is on the field.

The turf at the Meadowlands didn't bother me personally, although I know that some of my teammates had problems with it. Evidently, small pieces of rubber that were part of the field came loose and got all over the place. The only adjustment that I made in that regard was to change my cleat length for better traction. That's all part of the routine. You adjust things until you find what is best for a particular situation.

As a rookie, it is interesting to go from one NFL stadium to another and compare the differences in the facilities. Every field is slightly different. I have heard that the turf in New England's stadium has caused some problems, but hopefully it won't be a factor for us. Usually, weather makes a difference. If it is raining, almost any surface can be a problem.

I think that we are holding up well through the road trips this month. So far at least, fatigue hasn't been much of a factor. That is what you learn as a pro, how to pace yourself when you need to travel and you have big games coming up. We try to rest on the flights there and back, then take as much down time as possible when we are at home during the week.

This is the point in the fall when college games are pretty much over. Alabama, where I went to college, is getting ready for a bowl game. But other than that, their schedule is considerably lighter that it was a few weeks ago. But as a pro, I have a long season still ahead.

That is a huge adjustment for a rookie, I think, getting through the first season in the NFL. You are playing at a faster pace for an extended period of time, and you need to learn how not to wear yourself down. So far, I'm feeling fine and am ready to go.

My plan for Thanksgiving, though, is to spend a lot of quality time on the couch, probably watching some football. I'll go with some of the guys to a coach's home for dinner, and after that, I'll go home and rest. Any chance I get to put my feet up, you can be sure I'm going to take it. My family is staying at home in Oklahoma, so I'll be visiting with them by phone. But other than that, it will be my time to relax.

This is a big game coming up against New England. Personally I really enjoy that kind of challenge. Although every game stands on its own and you always want to do your best, going against a top-rated offense like the Patriots should be interesting.

We'll be working this week studying the film and putting in the game plan as usual. I think that the team is confident but not overconfident. You build a kind of momentum as the number of wins increases, but you never want to take any game for granted. We understand that we'll be put to the test on Sunday, but it is a challenge we welcome. I know that I certainly am looking forward to it.

Mark Anderson writes his Rookie Diary every Wednesday exclusively for

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