Training camp and the preseason are finally over, and we're heading into the first regular season game.
As a rookie, I don't really know what to expect from our trip to Green Bay. Some of the veterans have tried to explain the intensity of the Bears-Packers rivalry to us, but I think it's probably the kind of experience you need to have for yourself before you can fully understand it. The energy level in the locker room and on the practice field at Hales Hall is high this week. Everybody's ready to go and to see how this is going to turn out.
We are in the process of watching film now so we know what to expect from the Packers offense. Basically, I think we need to be prepared for fast-paced, very intense football. A big win early in the season can set the tone for the rest of the year.
We want to make a positive statement early and take the crowd out of the game. I'm sure that a lot of the guys will be pretty nervous before kickoff. But once the game begins, its all business. You don't have to worry about anything but the next play. Personally, I find that as long as I am out there playing or on the sideline concentrating on the action, I stay calm.
Looking back on my high school and college games, I can't really think of any contest I've played in where so much was at stake. San Jose State's big rival was Fresno State. We had good crowds for those games, but nothing compared to the number of fans that will be at Lambeau Field this Sunday. The noise level will be out of control, so we'll have to compensate for that on both sides of the ball.
The national coverage of this game and the fact that it is on a Sunday night will put added pressure on all of the players. You never want to look bad in front of former teammates, friends and relatives who might be watching. Also, quite a few of the other NFL guys will be tuning in, and it's important to present your best moves in front of them as well.
I've been asked if I ever check with my dad, who played as a lineman with the Saints, for football advice. My immediate reaction would be to say no. When we talk, we usually discuss family matters and the normal things that fathers and sons talk about. There's really no need to talk about the games. I want to learn as I go. I'm sure that football comes into the conversation now and then. It just isn't the main focus.
I think that each player's experiences are unique to the team he plays for and the time when he is playing, so my dad's experiences probably wouldn't translate completely to this team and this time. I know that he's there if I need him, but it's fun discovering things on my own for now. It is somewhat of an advantage having a family member who played in the NFL. I had an insider's view of things long before I was drafted.
Final cuts were held this past week. I was sorry to see those guys go. We were learning together through a long preseason and training camp, but I think you have to be pretty unemotional. Everybody in this league understands that this type thing happens all of the time. It's in the nature of things. Players come and go. You just want to stay healthy and do your best so you aren't one of the ones who ends up leaving.
One thing that has changed, now that cuts are complete and the season is starting, is that the rookies have moved from the basement locker room to the main locker room. It's a huge difference. I can tell you, it's definitely nicer upstairs.
My name is still written in marker over my locker, but hopefully that will change soon. I think any guy that has a temporary nameplate gets a little nervous, but I understand that it's early and the staff hasn't had time to take care of that yet.
Well, it's on to Green Bay. I think fans will see a fast, hard-hitting game, where each team is making a statement. We're looking forward to playing, as a rivalry is always fun. I'll tell you what it was like next week.
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Gilbert Rookie Diary: 9th Entry
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