Well, I finally got into the game, even if only for one play. And in my book, one snap is better than none. The funny thing is that in the record books, my first NFL stat will be that I got a tackle. The guy was right in front of me, so I reached out and grabbed him.
It was a strange experience in a way because it was over so quickly. I think the total elapsed time that I was playing out there was around 35 seconds. But that really doesn't make much difference. As a rookie, your job is to be ready to come in any time they call you. That's why I always have my helmet on. You never know when your chance will come. Patience is important and a major requirement of the game I chose to play.
As a newcomer, you get what role the coaches ask of you. They'll let you know when you're needed. The main thing is to keep your emotions under control. It isn't that you get excited but that you think "time to go to work" and settle down to business immediately.
I stood on the sideline for the entire game out in San Diego two weekends ago and I was prepared to do the same here this week, but I did get the call to come in for a pass play. I got caught up in a crowd of defenders, and it would have been difficult for Rex to get the ball to me. So things didn't work out well this time.
It's frustrating when you understand how the play should unfold but things don't go as planned. And as a receiver, things are happening so fast out there. If the quarterback isn't looking directly at you, it's often almost impossible to get him to see that you are too tightly covered.
But I'm not discouraged, as this is all part of the learning process during that first year in the pros. There will be other opportunities I'm sure, and in the meantime I'll continue to improve as much as I can.
The first home game at Soldier Field ended well. It certainly was good to get the win. I didn't sense a huge difference in fan excitement between this regular season game and the preseason, though. I think that any time you have a home game in Chicago, things are going to be wild.
One thing I definitely noticed was that everybody in the stadium seemed to have enjoyed seeing John St. Clair's score. Unexpected things like that are always good. And, of course, Devin Hester's returns got the crowd going, too.
The next time we're here will be for the Sunday night game. That will be nationally televised. There really isn't much of a difference for the players between playing a night game or a day game because in college you've done both a number of times. And the conditions are exactly the same for both teams, so there's no advantage one way of the other. You just need to adjust your pregame routine during the day slightly because of the later start time. That's about it.
Everybody on the team is optimistic and ready to go. Coming off a win, you tend to view things that way. And really, that's the way things should be at the beginning of the season.
Physically and mentally, I'm doing fine. I am relaxing more each week and feeling more comfortable on the field and in the classroom. I'm getting much closer to my own personal goal of playing more on instinct and reaction than on thought. That should make me more effective on the field. But until that happens, I'll just be here waiting and ready for the next time my number is called.
Garrett Wolfe writes his Rookie Diary with longtime correspondent Beth Gorr every week exclusively for BearReport.com.
Wolfe Rookie Diary: 9th Entry
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