For rookies, there are two main components of the introduction to the NFL: you need to learn the moves as the pros execute them, and you need to understand all of the written material such as what you'll find in the playbook. I guess the only positive I can find in this situation is that I have more time to devote to study, even if I am currently unable to be out on the field going through the steps for each sequence.
I am going to all of the meetings and learning a lot that way, as well. I still don't find the NFL overall that different from college. I think that in today's world, most college programs are run at a level that is pretty close to what you'll find in the pros. The big difference probably is not in the plays themselves, but in the speed at which they are run. That's what I'm looking forward to working on as soon as I am cleared to return to practice.
I guess that the other difference I see between college ball and football at this level is the amount of time each player is expected to devote to learning and perfecting his position. That makes sense, as we are no longer trying to fit football and academic classes into each day. This is a job and should get all of our attention all of the time.
Camp is definitely intense, but that doesn't mean we don't have fun. Guys like to kick back and relax every now and then. I think that's the way you begin to build relationships with other players within the team. That kind of thing can be very important when you are playing in a game later in the season. It's all a matter of communication, and if you know and trust somebody, your communcation on the field should be pretty good.
There has been some hazing of the rookies, but not anything I'll talk about. There isn't a camp in the league that doesn't have that. It's something all rookies expect to go through, so there aren't really any surprises that it happens. I think each of us understands that our chance to pass this on will come a year from now when there is a new bunch of guys on the team.
I've been asked if the heat is bothersome. I think that can't help but affect everybody to some extent, but it isn't all that different from conditions I've practiced in before. Most of the players who are from the South are well acclimated, and it doesn't seem to affect them as much.
I'm very excited about the opportunity I have this year. It was always my dream to play professional football, and sometimes being here doesn't feel real. My goal is to show the coaches and my teammates what I can do to help this team. I want to build on the success I had in college and hopefully be able to make a positive contribution at this level as well.
The first real game is coming up in a little while. That will be an experience I'm really looking forward to. It's one thing to play against your teammates, but another thing entirely to face players you are not acquainted with. That will be the rookies' first real introduction to what life is like at this level. I plan to be healthy and get my share of on-field time by then.
One other event I am looking forward to is the upcoming practice at Soldier Field. It should be quite an experience to run onto that field for the first time. The noise level alone must be overwhelming. We've had a lot of people come to camp to watch practice, and I know that noise level can be pretty fierce. I can't even imagine what the crowds in our home stadium will be like.
So that's about all from Bourbonnais. We'll hope to see the fans Sunday night in Chicago, then again when we return to camp on Monday.