Things are going very well so far, though I am finding that the physical effort is quite different from what I was accustomed to in college. The workout and conditioning program at this level is much more intense, as you would expect. It's no accident that the players in the NFL have such high skill levels.
The days are long. And for a rookie, I suspect it seems much longer than for a veteran. We begin early and have a whole range of activities scheduled from the time we arrive at Halas Hall until we leave for the day. A couple of hours in the weight room, followed by a long run on the field, some team meetings, a walk-through and practice seem to fill most of my hours. Then when I get home in the evening, it's time to hit the books. As I mentioned before, the playbook is long and complicated and very important. The faster I can learn it, the better off I'll be.
I'd say that life in the NFL, at least this far, doesn't leave much free time. And when you do have free time, you're too tired to do much but take a nap.
We've been working on routes and pass patterns during the OTAs. It's somewhat familiar from all of the football I've played when I was in school, but of course the pro system is unique to each team. My job is to fit into the Bears' way of doing things.
Working with a variety of quarterbacks is comfortable for me. It's what I did at Vanderbilt near the end of my time there.
I am discovering that the Bears defense is very tough. They're fast, too. I knew they were good, but this is an entirely different level. I'm sure this is just a taste of what I'll face later on when we're facing real opponents.
WR Earl Bennett
Warren Wimmer Photography
Rashied Davis has helped me along quite a bit. He's a smart guy who has been in professional football for quite a while – maybe nine years now counting his Arena experience. Rashied is very talented at the wide receiver position, and I'm trying to soak up everything he can tell me about how to do the job well. The fact that a veteran would take the time to do this is very much appreciated. I realize that he is under no obligation to help me improve my play.
The quarterbacks are also taking time after practice to help the new guys learn more about how the Bears play. I've watched a lot of professional football, and I'll tell you it sure looks different on TV. When you are actually on the field running the plays, things tend to happen fast. So if we can work things out with the various QBs at a slower speed with nobody from the defense running right at us, that's productive in terms of the learning curve.
I'm getting acquainted with the other players, as well. At first it was a little strange to meet the guys I'd only seen before on television, but any hesitation I had was gone pretty soon. We're all on the same team, and now we're working for the same goal. I guess that as a rookie, you're bound to be somewhat star struck. But you can't let it last too long, or it will impede your progress.
Other than working on the actual plays, from here on until training camp I'll be concentrating on my conditioning. I realize it's a long season, and it will be physically stressful. The better shape I can get in now, the better off I'll be in the long run. I am watching to make sure I get enough rest, and I'm very careful about what I eat. You don't want to put junk in your body when it needs good fuel. The Bears have a staff dedicated to helping us with this type of thing, and it makes sense to take advantage of their knowledge.
This is the beginning of my life in professional football. At first, it was strange to be making the transition from playing football part time while still worrying about homework and other things. But now I am able to give it 100 percent of my time and my concentration, which is great.
I'm enjoying every minute of the experience, and I feel that things will only get better as time goes by.