First of all, there's the advantage of having your fans in the stadium. Obviously, any time they are cheering for you, it's going to rev you up some. Also, the noise that they make can disrupt the opposing team. That's all good.
Secondly, we know the stadium, and we know the turf. You'd be surprised what a difference that can make. There's no wasted energy getting used to the conditions on game day.
Last of all, I think the main advantage is getting more of a chance to rest before the game. It doesn't really matter how near or how far away your road games are. You're going through a lot of effort to get there. There's the time difference. Perhaps the weather is different. A number of things come into play. Here we can stay in our homes with our families and go into the game under the best possible circumstances.
As a rookie, I'm definitely finding the fatigue factor coming into my situation. I think that's pretty hard to avoid at this time in the season. In college, the games have been completed for a few weeks now. In the pros, we are going into the time of the season when everything counts for much more. You really need to be at your physical and mental peak to accomplish what needs to be done in the playoffs.
What I'm trying to do personally as we head into the last games of the season is to rest as much as possible. I have my days down to just a few things. I go to Halas Hall and work out. I go to meetings, and I practice. Then I come right back home and rest as much as I can. This isn't the time to waste any energy on non-football activities.
As far as having the stamina to get through each game successfully, I am relying on my conditioning. So far, that seems to be fine.
I did notice in the Tampa game, though, that I slipped mentally a few times. My communication with the other guys on the line wasn't as good as it should have been. That could be a fatigue problem.
Believe me, whenever Alex Brown or anybody else feels that I am not there mentally, they bring it to my attention immediately. Sometimes Alex will tap me on the shoulder. Other times he might say something just before the play starts. That gets me back into the game real fast. We all need to be alert and on the same page mentally to get this done.
As far as my personal play was concerned on Sunday against the Bucs, I'd rate myself at just average. I know I can do a lot better, and I plan to work on whatever needs some help between now and the Detroit game. I need better acceleration. I need to move faster off the ball. I need to get into people's faces a lot quicker. It's just a matter of deconstructing, of going back to the basics of my technique and rebuilding from there.
I didn't see anything that surprised me from Tampa last weekend. Even the quarterback change didn't make a tremendous amount of difference to us, but it was clear that we need to execute on every play.
I'm not going to use the recent distractions as a reason for my level of play Sunday. As a professional in the NFL, it's necessary to put everything that isn't happening on the field out of your mind when you're in a game. I think I was successful there, but I still didn't get the results I wanted to see.
We're headed into the last two games of the season now. We aren't taking these games for granted at all. You need to play each one as it comes to you then switch your mind to concentrate on the playoffs. I'm looking forward to more on-field time and the chance to make some good contributions. I'm going to be doing everything possible to be rested and ready to go this Sunday.
Mark Anderson writes his Rookie Diary every Wednesday exclusively for BearReport.com.
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