Player Diary

Rookie SS Bobby Gray has been gaining experience on the field during the first three preseason games. As he begins to settle into the routine of an NFL player, Gray has been concentrating on broadening his skills in the secondary and on special teams. Bear Report spoke to Gray following the Bears- Jaguars game.

BR When we spoke after the Jacksonville game, you said that you were very unhappy with your play that night. What happened?

Gray Well, it wasn't really as bad as I thought it was right after that game. I guess I was just disappointed generally and believed that I could have done better. I missed some big plays and just didn't feel that I was performing to the level of my ability.

BR In press conferences after both the Denver and the St Louis games, head coach Dick Jauron and defensive coordinator Greg Blache mentioned that you played extremely well as a starter. This week, Jauron said that most of the rookies, including you, hadn't yet reached a true understanding of the game. Later, coach Blache mentioned a general inattention to details by much of the defense. What's your reaction?

Gray I think that they are right. I can't answer for the entire defense, but I think that my play was definitely better during those first two games. I felt comfortable out there and knew what I was doing. This time, I'm not sure exactly what happened. I just didn't catch up with the flow. The patterns seemed faster. It's hard to notice all the details when you aren't keeping up with the game. I think that particularly as a rookie, if you let those things get away from you, you're in for a long day.

BR Were you tired, or was it just an off night?

Gray I was definitely getting tired. I'm paying a lot of attention to my level of conditioning from now on. I did notice that I was not in good shape by the fourth quarter. That's never a good thing. What I have been doing to improve in that area is to run more after practice. I do wind sprints and just keep moving. The better I'm feeling going into the game, the better shape I'll be in during the game.

BR What exactly was coach Blache referring to when he mentioned the details of the game that the secondary was missing?

Gray This came up during halftime. I think that coach Blache felt that our minds weren't completely in the game. If a player misses anything at all that is happening on the field, he's going to be in trouble. Overlook a small part of your assignment, and you can get burned. Be just a little out of alignment, and somebody is going to go right past you for a touchdown. That looks bad to the coaches, and it feels bad to the player.

BR So how do you avoid that?

Gray You can't get ahead of yourself mentally. You must pay attention to each individual play. You can think about what the next route might be, but your mind can't wander off to think about everything that could happen during the rest of the game.

BR You've already traveled to one away game. Are you comfortable with that process?

Gray Sure. The management has everything set up for us to make the transition as easy as possible. I don't see any problems playing in Miami. Some might be bothered by the heat, but that's never been a problem for me.

BR Are you doing anything special to prepare for Miami?

Gray Not really, just the usual. Game films, working on schemes, practicing moves over and over until they are comfortable.

BR You injured your ankle several weeks ago. How is that feeling now?

Gray It's still a little sore but it's not giving me any real problems. When I am in a game I don't think about it at all. I can move just the way I'm supposed to move.

BR It's getting to the time in pre season where each player needs to impress his coaches. What do you think you can add to the Bears?

Gray I think that I am coming along well on special teams. It's something that I have spent a lot of time on recently because I know that it is important to be versatile as a player. Also, I've found that I have established good communication with Mike Brown. He is helping me become a more solid player who can contribute to every game. I have confidence in what I am doing and I am beginning to react to plays much faster.

BR What do you still have to work on?

Gray Well, I need to be on the field as much as possible. That is always the best way for a rookie to learn how the NFL works. I'm still not happy with my tempo. I need to be quicker and more instinctive. I think that will start happening pretty soon. But my hope is that the coaches will see that I am performing the best that I can. I try to leave everything that I have out on the field. I have the desire to do well and I am willing to work hard to get where they want me to be.


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