While I did definitely notice an increase in speed on every play, even over and above the faster speed we've had in practice recently, it wasn't really too difficult to keep up. That says a lot about how well we've been trained here at camp. There is a high level of intensity when you are playing the NFL, however, this is somewhat similar to a playoff atmosphere in college.
Getting on an NFL field is an incredibly exciting experience. I was happy to have the opportunity to get out there and play. I can only begin to imagine what it will be like when we play our first home game.
What I tried to do in Houston was to fill my role well. There aren't going to be any plays specifically designed for my skills, so it is my job to make sure that I fit into the schemes the coaches have set up. I felt that I did an adequate job for my first time out. There will always be room for improvement, of course, and that is what I'll be working on this week in camp.
So much of what happens at this level of football is mental. If you have that acuity, then you're in pretty good shape as far as making plays in concerned. How you get to that point as a rookie is a matter of study and concentration on the fundamentals and on each detail. It's my job to pay attention in meetings and during the on-field instruction. I'm trying to soak up all of this as quickly as possible so I can keep up with the veterans and play intelligently.
Because I am from Chicago, I've been receiving some media attention during camp. That's definitely flattering. I guess I've got to be doing something right for people to want to be hearing about me. It's great to have people in my corner and interested in me because there will always be those people who don't necessarily want me to succeed.
One thing that I learned this past week is that traveling as a professional football player, you are allowed considerably more freedom than when you travel as a college player. We are treated like men, which is the way things should be. In turn, as a player you learn not to take advantage of that freedom but to use the time you are given responsibly.
My roommate on the road is Josh Allen. We already knew each other from the spring OTAs, and we get along well together. He's really a great guy. It's good to have a friend who is going through the same kind of experience. The road trip gave us a chance to talk about what's going on.
I've been asked if it is at all intimidating to play against guys I may have seen before on television or read about in the sports section. My answer: not really. After all, my view is that I know a lot of these players already. Maybe we were from the same neighborhood and grew up together or played against each other in college. So no, a big-name player facing me from across the line of scrimmage is not intimidating. We're all in the same business. These people are working to get the job done, just as I am.
The next game is against the Colts on a Monday night. We haven't really turned our attention to that just yet. For me, the most important thing at this point is to take everything day by day. I have more than enough to think about just going through what I have to do from the first workout in the morning through the last practice or meeting at night.
I know that as a team, we will be well prepared. I'll be working on my speed and my reaction time. I'll also put in a lot of hours studying the playbook and the gameplan. All this is necessary preparation for the beginning of the regular season.
It's a lot of work, but its also fun. I'm more than willing to take things as they come, give my best effort on every play, and enjoy things as they happen. So far this has been challenging, but there's nothing I feel I can't handle. All I ever wanted was the opportunity to play. To be with the Bears makes the experience that much better. I'm definitely enjoying this.