It was great to finally have the opportunity to play in an NFL game. Things are a little different when the guys you are across the line from are not as familiar as the Bears O-line has become. But that is all a part of being in this league and something I'll be dealing with from now on.
The speed of the game is definitely much quicker than what happens in practice. I'm sure once we get to a regular season game, things will speed up that much more. One thing that surprised me though was that the feeling of being in the game was pretty close to what I'd experienced in college. It's a competitive situation, and I guess at some point instinct just takes over.
The road trip itself was enjoyable. Again, it was similar to what I'd experienced in college ball, but at a slightly different level. I've been asked if I felt nervous. My answer would be no, not at all. That shows how well we are coached. The rookies are pretty much prepared for anything at this point.
My family didn't go to Buffalo, but they watched the game on TV and enjoyed that. I'm sure they'll all be watching again this weekend.
It was good during the game in Buffalo to have the opportunity to watch the first team go through their moves. Up close like that, you see quite a bit that you'd never notice if you were, say, watching on television. I'm going to use any time that I have when I am on the sideline from now on to watch the guys who are out there and study what's going on.
Another question I had was how much difference it makes to a defense if the offense you are playing uses a no-huddle, as Buffalo did last weekend. Really, you need to be able to react pretty fast no matter what the offense is doing. The tempo is a bit quicker with the no-huddle, so you need to be sure you are reacting as quickly as possible.
One thing I did notice is that the no-huddle offense is very tiring on the defense. Things are moving right along. There's no break at all. You need to make the plays, get back to the line, get ready to go and then do it all over again. That can get wearing after a while, but that is why we work so hard to get in top condition. You need stamina to keep up with the game at this level.
Camp has been an intense experience the few weeks we've been in Bourbonnais. It has been very physical, of course, but mental as well. We study a lot and attend many meetings. It's important to understand everything that can happen on the field. I think I learned quite a bit and feel well prepared to begin the regular season.
Coming back to Chicago this weekend will be great. I really haven't had the time to settle in yet. I need to find a place to live, move my stuff and get established. Once we are back at Halas Hall, we'll be in a whole new routine. I think that being able to come home to my own place at night will be a very good thing. It's easier to rest and relax in a familiar environment.
Also, I haven't had much of a chance yet to go around the city. I want to take some of my free time this fall to learn about Chicago.
I'm definitely looking forward to this first game in Soldier Field. It should be crazy there. I've been told that the first time you step on the field on game day, it's a memorable experience. The noise level should be amazing. The fans here in Bourbonnais have been great. It will be fun to see even more of them downtown at Soldier Field.
I've been asked what my goal is for this first home game. I'd be happy to have the chance to put into use what I have learned so far. I'm ready to get on the field whenever I can. There's no better way to improve your level of play than to be out there during a game.
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Gilbert Rookie Diary: 6th Entry
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