It's hard to believe the OTAs are almost over. By the end of this week, we have a little break before heading off to training camp. It's been a very exciting experience for me so far. In some ways it was pretty much what I'd expected, and in other ways it was quite different.
What was the same as college? Most of the plays reminded me of what we did at Vanderbilt. Football is football, so the basics never vary that much. What wasn't at all the same was the complexity and size of the playbook. Many hours have gone into memorizing what is in there, and I still don't feel I'm where I want to be with that right now. But I plan to take advantage of the time between now and camp to finish working on that.
Having the opportunity to meet these players has been a real privilege. Of course, you are somewhat intimidated at the beginning to be playing with guys you may have read about in the sports magazines or watched on TV. But they are hardworking players, people who get down to business.
I've been asked exactly how a rookie introduces himself to the team. Do I tend to come up to somebody I don't know and say "hi," or do I wait for them to introduce themselves to me? I'd say that depends on the situation. It's really different with every player. Some of the veterans are quite open and friendly, so you don't feel at all hesitant about coming right up to them. Others may be a little more guarded. You don't want to intrude on their personal space too much. For these players, I think I'll just wait a little while. As rookies, we all have something to prove to the veterans. Maybe things with them are a little more relaxed once I make the team.
I can't say enough about the players who have taken the time to help me out. Any time I have a question, I feel perfectly free to go up to them and get things clarified. Brandon Lloyd, Marty Booker, Rashied Davis – all great guys who take the time to work with the rookies. That makes a tremendous difference in my confidence level and in my ability to relax on the field.
During the break, I'm going to be pretty busy. I'm headed back home first to see my friends and hang out a little bit, but I will definitely keep up my conditioning program. I can't take anything for granted on that, and I need to come to camp in the best possible shape.
WR Earl Bennett
Warren Wimmer Photography
I just bought a home in the Chicago area. The closing is July 9, which is coming pretty soon. I'm going to ask my friends and family to help me pack and then unpack. It's too much for me to do alone. My mom's really excited about all of this. Her plan is to move into my house while I'm at camp. That way she'll get the opportunity to learn about Chicago, and she'll also get my house working right.
I think my family and some of my friends will be coming to camp for a short visit at some point. I've tried to stay in touch with most of my old teammates so they could come around. Of course, the ones who were drafted will have their own camps to attend. I don't know what to expect in Bourbonnais. I've never been in that part of Illinois before, but I think we'll be so busy that I won't have much free time to appreciate the area anyway.
What I am going to be concentrating on during camp is working through the plays and learning my routes – that kind of thing. I also want to learn how to pace myself and increase my conditioning level so I don't tire too easily during games this fall. It's a long season, and stamina is very important.
I've heard stories about the hazing rookies get, so that part I'm not looking forward to. But the rest is great. It's just one more step on the way to the beginning of my first season in the NFL. I'm feeling great physically, and I'm very optimistic overall.