Bennett Rookie Diary: 16th Entry

It's time for the Chicago Bears to go back to work, and Earl Bennett in particular is appreciative of the added rest from last week. In this installment of his Rookie Diary, Bennett writes about spending the bye at his alma mater in Nashville and how his lifestyle has changed since college.

I'm back at Halas Hall after a great weekend at Vanderbilt. They played Duke and, unfortunately, Vanderbilt lost. That means they need to win at least one more game to get into bowl contention. I'm counting on my guys to get that done.

I was on the sideline with my old teammates, which was a lot of fun. It was such a change to just stand there and relax. I was a spectator in that stadium for the first time, and it was enjoyable.

What I noticed immediately is that the speed of the college game is considerably slower than it is in the NFL. I would have been surprised by that a year ago. Also, the intensity is far greater in the pros. When your livelihood is on the line every game, you tend to play very hard. Additionally, as a pro you don't have to worry about homework or classes, so football is your concentration all day every day. That's a big difference from college.

I appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with my guys, and it was great to have the chance to relax and enjoy the crowd rather than worrying about performing.

There were a lot of questions from my former teammates. Quite a few of them are focusing on the NFL right now. They've had good college years, and their goal is to translate that success to the next level.

The main thing I stressed when talking to the team was the importance of concentrating on your goal. Between now and the draft, there just isn't any free time. You need to either be concentrating on your physical skills or getting into the best possible mental shape. The Scouting Combine is serious business. For a lot of players, it's their best shot. If you don't show your absolute top skills, it could destroy any possibility of a pro career.

One other thing I mentioned a lot is the importance of focus while you are meeting with the coaches at the combine. They want players who are willing to do what it takes to succeed at the NFL level, not just some guys who think it might be fun to play in the pros for a year or two. Show that you're serious. Show that you are intelligent and that you want to learn and to work hard. It will go a long way.

WR Earl Bennett
Warren Wimmer Photography

The time off was a very welcome break for my body. I am still not accustomed to the length of the NFL season, so this chance to relax a little was extremely important.

It's funny because now looking back on the bye week, I realize that I have completely changed my habits to accommodate my new career. It may have felt like a mini spring break, but I was also quite conscious of the need to rest and to take care of myself. I'm sorry to say that those all-night parties are definitely a thing of the past. I suspect my friends who are still at Vanderbilt think I'm pretty dull right now because of that.

We're into the second half of the season right now, and things are going to get serious. The veterans have told me that no matter how intense I might have thought the earlier games were, what's coming next will be much more difficult. It's easy to understand why, as there is a lot more at stake. You want to make it to the Super Bowl, so you can never let your intensity or your work ethic let down.

The last game against the Vikings was a wild one with those 48 points. I'm not sure I'll ever experience anything like that again in my career. Next up are the Lions, who we beat about a month ago.

I don't see this as an easy game at all. After all, everybody wants to win in this league. They've already seen a lot of our looks, so we'll have to be making some adjustments to account for that. I think our offense has some good positive momentum after the last game, and our intention is to continue that right into this week.

I've been told by the veterans that it's important after the bye week to practice with extra effort. It takes a day or two to get your body accustomed to the physical effort again, so I expect some fast, hard workouts between now and Sunday. We expect a tough game, and it's on us to be up to the challenge.

Earl Bennett writes his Rookie Diary with longtime correspondent Beth Gorr every week exclusively for

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