Mark Anderson Rookie Diary: Entry 10

Mark Anderson was the fifth defensive player the Bears selected in last April's draft, but he just finished second in the voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Not bad for a fifth-round pick. In this installment of his Rookie Diary, Anderson discusses his accomplishments as a first-year player and the news that Nick Saban is heading to Alabama - his alma mater.

We're getting back to work here on our way to prepare for the first playoff game. It's good to be outside in this nice weather, although I suspect that by the time our game comes around, it may not be this warm out.

Our practices from now to the playoffs will be very focused in terms of our techniques. Since we don't know yet who we will be facing, we go against each other and refine what we are doing. We are not going to be at full speed this week, but we will be increasing in intensity as we get closer to the time of our next game.

The extra week off will be beneficial in terms of giving us the opportunity to rest and heal. I think any time you get a little bit extra in terms of not beating up your body, it's a good thing. I plan to watch the games that are on and spend as much time as I can resting between now and next weekend.

The Green Bay game was a disappointment to say the least. I think we were mentally and physically sharp and ready to go. It was just one of those days when whatever can go wrong does. Green Bay was at the top of their game, and we weren't. It was not pleasant to end the regular season that way. I think that we'd planned on having a lot of positive momentum going as we made the transition from regular season to the postseason.

We will be watching the film and analyzing what we did wrong this week, but as soon as that process is complete, we plan to put the Packers game out of our minds as quickly as possible. In football, you need to have a selective memory. You want to build on what you did right and forget what went wrong.

I don't mean that we are ignoring our mistakes. Far from it. We are just refocusing on the positives. That's important heading into the playoffs.

I don't really care which team we end up against in a week. I don't think it matters all that much. The burden is on us to go out there and play every down at 100% against any team we find on the other side of the ball. We plan to go all the way, and we are well aware of the amount of work that must be put in now to reach that goal.

Looking back at my rookie year, I guess that I can say I am glad to have achieved what I have, but I must say that I expected much more from myself. I want to be an every-down player who gets big numbers in each game. I'm not there yet.

I can say that it's been fun. A lot of hard work, that's for sure, but fun as well. I haven't found the NFL to be that different from the college program at Alabama that I was familiar with. There were considerable pressures then just as there are now.

The biggest adjustment for me was the length of the season. I think it may take a year or so at the pro level to be comfortable with the constant physical demands. I plan to spend most of the time during the offseason working on my conditioning so I return to Halas Hall next year ready to go without any problems.

I'm not sure what to expect during the coming weeks. I'm assuming that the experience will be similar to some of the big games we had at Alabama. We are all aware that this time it is a win-or-you're-out situation, so I am expecting intensity at an increased level. That kind of pressure doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I enjoy it.

I want to enjoy the games we have left and find things to build on for next year. Coming back as a veteran should help considerably as I won't have to spend any time getting used to the system. I'm looking forward to putting up good numbers in 2007 and playing as much as possible.

One more thing on a personal note. I heard the news this morning that Saban is going to Alabama, where I played football. I'm really glad to hear that. I think the program there needs a jump-start, and Saban could be the one to do that. It's going to be fun to see what he does with that team.

Mark Anderson writes his Rookie Diary every Wednesday exclusively for BearReport.com.


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