Wolfe Rookie Diary: Final Entry

In the 23rd and final installment of his Rookie Diary, running back Garrett Wolfe writes about finishing the 2007 season on a two-game winning streak, the disappointment of being home for the playoffs, and how he'll prepare himself for a bigger role in the offense for 2008.

Sunday's win was a good way to end the season. Two in a row takes away some of the bad taste we had from the problems we experienced earlier. I think it also makes us more confident as individual players and as a team going into the offseason. You always want to leave your coaches with a positive feeling about how you played as well.

For myself in that game, I just tried to take advantage of the opportunities that were given to me. I tried to make things happen. Blocking is something I get particular enjoyment from doing. I think that lots of times the defense will see me across the line and figure I'm so small that I won't cause them any problems. It's fun to just get in there after that and take somebody down. Most of the time they never see me coming.

The one big play I had worked out well. Any time I get the ball, my intention is to make positive things happen. It works out particularly well for me when I can get the ball in space. That gives me more of an opportunity to see the field and decide where the holes are going to be.

Devin Hester was amazing, as we have come to expect him to be. It's enjoyable to watch the moves he can make on the field. He is a tremendous advantage for us, as the opponent never is certain how he'll be used in any given situation. That tends to give us great field position most of the time. I thought that Adrian Peterson did really well, too. He never stops when he has the ball in his hands.

Now it's the end of the season. In some ways, it seems to have gone by really fast. In other ways, I guess mostly when compared to the shorter college season I was used to, it goes on forever.

It's a disappointment of course that we are not going to the playoffs. Coming to the team as a rookie was really impressive this summer. Here were all these guys who had just been to the Super Bowl. What rookie wouldn't want to be in a situation like that?

What I noticed immediately was the self-confidence and swagger that the veterans had. They were certain that their abilities would get the team back to the Super Bowl again this year. It was a contagious feeling that had us all looking forward to the beginning of the regular season.

The problems that came after such a positive beginning were very difficult for everyone on the team. As a rookie, I wasn't directly involved since I spent quite a bit of time on the sideline just watching what was happening. But that didn't make the end result any less frustrating.

I think that nobody knows for sure exactly what went wrong, It's likely that all of the players are going to spend quite a bit of time during the offseason reassessing what each of us could have done better. Then it will be up to each of us to work hard so we come back as an improved team in 2008.

Injuries are something that you can't control, and we got hit with those very early on. But there has to be a way to compensate for that. If the team as a whole has skill deep down the depth chart, the injuries don't have quite as great an impact.

What were my impressions of this first year overall? It was both easier and much more difficult than I expected it to be. As a player in college, I always thought of the NFL as an extremely complex and difficult environment – one that would take a long time to get accustomed to. What I found was that the pro game is more like what is played at the college level than I'd thought it would be.


RB Garrett Wolfe
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The difficulties for rookies come because everybody has an extremely high level of talent. You are lining up against players who are incredibly good at what they do. That can be somewhat intimidating when you're new to the league. Also, that playbook is huge – considerably bigger than what I saw at NIU. It takes a while to understand and memorize everything in there.

Physically I got through the season fine, but I do feel tired. All of us here would probably admit to that. My guess is that most of us will take the first few weeks of our break just to relax and get our energy levels back to where they were last fall.

Other than that, my plan is to return to Halas Hall probably within a month and begin my conditioning program. That is a definite advantage the NFL has over college ball. There is a highly skilled staff of trainers here all the time to help us. Taking advantage of that opportunity should pay off big dividends between now and training camp.

My workouts will be as intense as last year when I was just coming into the NFL, but they will have a different focus. This time last year, I was working on skills for the Combine. Now I'm refining what I need to be successful at my position. Last year I needed to perform at a peak level for the scouts, and then I could take a little time off until training camp. Now I will need to build my conditioning throughout the offseason and into camp.

It's been quite an experience and one that is difficult to put into words. Being in the NFL has been my dream for many, many years. Now I'm here. It's definitely a job, but there is also the aspect of pure enjoyment. Who wouldn't want the chance to play football for a living? And to play for the team from your hometown? That makes it all even better.

But I do feel that I still have a long way to go. I guess I was somewhat satisfied with my performance when I was able to get into games this year, but I don't feel that I have enough film yet to have a secure role on the team.

It's hard to get feedback from coaches when they don't see you in game-day situations all that much. I'd say my goal for next year will be to raise my level of play and carve out a place where I can be in a role that provides a definite advantage for this team.

I appreciate the support of all the fans that have been behind me this year. I will do my best to justify your faith in me. And until I see all of you again at training camp, I'd like to say thank you and wish you a Happy New Year.

Garrett Wolfe writes his Rookie Diary with longtime correspondent Beth Gorr every week exclusively for BearReport.com.


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