Player Diary

It wasn't a good game for us last week. Maybe there were some plays we could have tried to get back into things, but it just didn't work out that way.

Starting for the first time felt surprisingly comfortable. Of course, that is what I did in college ball, so it was not a completely unfamiliar situation. But as a rookie, your first start in the pros has to be something that, good or bad, you're always going to remember.

I said last week that one of my goals in the Minnesota game was to be a spark for the team. In that respect, I surely didn't accomplish what I had set out to do. Some of my plays were fine. Some of them could have been a lot better. What I want to do from here on is to make more of those good plays, and less of the bad. To get where I want to be means more practice, more hard work. Eliminate the errors.

I'd like to take the level of my play just one step further. If I go after the quarterback, I want to take him down. I want to be faster off the ball and get in some of the linemen's faces before they even know that I'm coming. Speed and strengths are big factors in success on the defensive line.

People probably are wondering what the team is thinking right now. I can't speak for anybody but myself, but I will say that my sense is that nobody on this team has given up. Sure, we are discouraged. Who wouldn't be when the season is not going at all the way you want it to?

There's a big difference between being a little down when things you want to happen aren't working out and just throwing in the towel. The season is half over. That means there's plenty of time left to get things together and going the way they should be. This team has a lot of self-respect and the players are very skilled. We'll make the necessary adjustments to get good results. Who knows? We might still make the playoffs.

McNabb poses a real threat; there's no doubt about that. Anybody watching him play last Monday night knows exactly what I'm talking about. He can throw, he can run, and he's very smart. That's a tough combination to control. Also, the Eagles have good receivers. I wasn't in the playoff game in January so I have no personal experience with Philadelphia. Although, I've heard about them from the players who were there last year.

How are we going to prepare? Practice and more practice. Watch game films and work out a defensive plan. Each player has to decide what he is going to do on the field Sunday, then find a way to do that something just a little bit better. We need to bring our strengths into this game. We all have confidence that the coaches will have us ready for whatever the Eagles have planned.

You never know what's going to happen until you get on the field. I may think I've got one play down real well. Then, all of a sudden, somebody on the other side of the ball will show me that I'm not as good as I think I am with that particular move. Maybe I'll get the better of him when he least expects it. It all happens very fast and you try to prepare as best you can.

One thing that I am noticing this rookie year is the fatigue factor. That's where conditioning really becomes important. Remember that the rookies are just out of college and this is our first year at the NFL level of play. We are accustomed to a much shorter season.

I was at home the other night and found myself counting up the weeks since mini camp, training camp, and this far into the season. That's a long time. In college, our games would be done in November. At that point in the pros, you still have a long way to go. It's important to take care of your body, get enough rest, and keep your enthusiasm level high. That's the key to football longevity.

This time next week I'm hoping we'll be talking about how good it was to beat Philadelphia. I'll do my best to help make that happen.

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