Going to Soldier Field on Sunday night was a great experience. Even though I'm very familiar with the Chicago area, I'd never been inside the stadium before. It's really impressive, and playing there was an indescribable feeling. I can only begin to imagine what it will be like once the season begins.
The fans are very enthusiastic, which is a good thing. It's important to know that they are behind you 100%. My college career was at Northern Illinois University, and it's the same type of atmosphere there where the fans get into the game and cheer you on. And I have to say that although the noise level there Sunday night was pretty loud, Northern Illinois got really noisy when we played there, as well.
Hearing the fans isn't a distraction at all for me. It's something that you are aware of on some level, but for most of the time, you are so busy concentrating on your job that it blends into the background.
There was no practice Monday, so we had a little time to rest before we began again in Bourbonnais on Tuesday. We have a game coming up this weekend in Houston, so I'll be concentrating particularly hard in the meetings and during run-throughs.
I can't quite imagine what the first NFL game will be like. I guess the closest thing that I have already experienced would be a college bowl game, where everything is intensified. It will be interesting to go against players I am not all that familiar with. Even as a rookie I am beginning to understand what Bears players do, but this upcoming game will be an entirely new situation.
I don't expect the travel experience as a professional player to be much different from that of a college player, but I could be wrong. Let me get back to you next week for my impressions on that.
I was asked recently about my overall goals for this first season with the Bears. I know that we are a very good team, so it would be presumptuous for me to say something like I'm going to help us win games. They can do that with or without me. What I see my role as being is improving my technique and my skills at my position so I'll be able to contribute in a very positive way.
It's unusual to be able to make a huge impact your rookie season, so I guess I'd be satisfied to do well at my job and have achieved a good sense of the way to play the game at this level. A year from now when I'm going into my second season, I'll expect much more personally in terms of production. Right now, I'm watching and learning as much as I can.
Where do I see the Bears this season? Right at the top. We have a very talented squad, and the desire to succeed is certainly there. I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to join an organization like this one.
From what I've heard, the team feels it has unfinished business. The players definitely have something to prove. Getting to the Super Bowl is impressive. Winning the Super Bowl is every player's dream. It should be an exciting year and a great experience to be part of this.