I feel that I'm acclimating to the Bears' system very well. The learning curve is better than I thought it would be, although the playbook definitely provides a challenge. In college football you have almost as many plays to learn as you do in the pros, but they are charted out so you see them in front of you on the paper rather than read about them. In the pros, you get page after page of pretty technical stuff.
The reason for that difference is because in college, you have only a limited time to spend on football. You still have your academic classes to take care of. At this professional level, it's football all the time. Pass plays and pass protection, that's where I am right now. You need to memorize everything, and that's taking considerable effort. The coaches figure that since you have nothing else to do, you might as well spend a good part of your day learning plays both on and off the field.
What I'm working on now is understanding the overall concept of the offense. It's difficult for a reason. The more complex you make it, the more difficult it will be for the defense to know what you're going to do.
I'm starting from the wider view before I narrow it down to the details. Then I'll work on what I already know. The run plays are pretty much like those in college, so I'm not anticipating any difficulty there. The pass plays and some of the handoffs are quite different, so that's what I'll be concentrating on in training camp.
What has surprised me is that there has been no hazing at all. In fact, the veterans go out of their way to help the new players. The guys at my position, the guys at any position really will do anything they can to help. I never even have to ask.
I'd always heard that the Bears are a different kind of organization. This is unlike any team I've ever been on before. Everybody wants you to do well and are willing to do whatever they can to help you do that. It's more like a big family where everybody is helping each other out. That's true both on and off the field, and it certainly makes the transition much easier.
I've certainly heard a lot about hazing in the NFL, but so far at least I've experienced none of that myself. Things might change in training camp, but for now it's all good.
What I'm hoping to get out of these team activities is to get headed in the right direction before training camp begins. I know I have a lot of work to do. I need to refine my skills and move my speed up a little bit. I was fast for the college level, but the pros are a completely different situation. Everybody is good here.
I notice a huge difference in the conditioning program between the Bears and NIU where I played college ball. In school, the guys were going all out all of the time, in the weight room and on the field.
In the pros, they are making us pace ourselves more. It isn't that you end up doing less as far as conditioning is concerned, but you do it at a different speed. That helps prevent injury and builds stamina without doing any harm. I think that as the season goes on this type of approach will give me what I need to be as healthy in January as I am right now.
Between now and training camp, I'm concentrating on understanding all that I can as far as the Bears' approach to offense,. My speed is good now, but if I know what I'm doing in the schemes, I'll be able to stop thinking so much and just work on my speed. I feel that my skills fit in at this level and that I will contribute to this team. This is going to be an exciting experience and I'm looking forward to everything that will happen this year.