It's great to be here and to have the opportunity to start camp. There's a different feeling within the team now. It isn't quite as casual as the earlier camps were in the weeks following the draft. Everybody is focused because this is definitely the real thing.
Guys are rested and in good shape. It seems to me that all of the players are game-ready right now. It's easy to see how well everybody is feeling. Just look at the players running around right now. The tempo of the plays is so much faster and more intense than earlier this spring. Players are out to secure their roster spots, and everybody has raised their level of play significantly.
During this first practice, we were in shirts and shorts so the heat wasn't a concern. I would imagine, however, that on a nice hot day in Bourbonnais when we are running around in full equipment, it would be another matter entirely. We're careful to hydrate to avoid any problems.
We all got here Thursday and spent most of Friday in meetings. From what I've seen, we're scheduled pretty much every minute from early morning until late in the evening. The secret, I think, is to learn how to pace yourself. That is particularly true for the rookies. We know about training camps from our spring workouts in college, but not at this level of intensity. It's really important to preserve your body heading into the regular season. My solution is to nap every chance I get.
I'm still working on learning the playbook. At this point, I'm pretty confident that I understand just about all of it. But I'll go over it some more just to be sure.
Gilbert is impressed with the Bears' fans so far.
Warren Wimmer Photography
One tip I heard is about the importance of eating. I guess it can be pretty easy to lose weight with all of this physical activity. We have a wide variety of menus to choose from and the food is great, so I hope weight reduction won't be a concern for me. The coaches like me a little on the lean side so I can be fast, but I don't want to lose any strength.
I'm really enjoying this time back on the football field. It's a different situation now that I know that I have the chance to do this professionally. In college, you always have other things demanding your time. Now it's only football, which is a very good thing.
I spent a lot of time during our break last month working out with my old coaches in California. I wanted to report to camp in the best possible shape. My goal as far as playing for the Bears right now is to demonstrate what I can do and to show that I am versatile on defense.
I've been asked if I can see myself playing at any certain position five years from now. It's just too far ahead in the future to even guess about something like that. I'm comfortable just about anywhere, so I'll trust the coaches to place me where they think I can be most effective. Maybe once I have been in an actual NFL game situation, it will be clearer as far as where I play best.
I got my first introduction to the Bears fans Friday. It was great. I think I heard there was something like 6,000 people here. It sure looked like it could have been that many. To me, I t was like a game day. It was that loud. I love their enthusiasm and their interest in what we are doing.
I've heard that Soldier Field raises this experience even more and that the noise level there is incredible. It will be fun to be there next week and find out for myself.