That was an exciting game for all of us. We felt that we could and should win, but of course you never know until that actually happens. The atmosphere at Soldier Field was great. It was enjoyable to see all the fans and experience what a regular season home game is like.
I was asked about the turf conditions. The field seemed OK, although the turf had been replaced after the U2 concerts at Soldier Field. There was a little slipping and sliding, but I don't think the players were having a lot of trouble with it. The weather wasn't too big a factor either. As you probably could tell, the ball got a little slippery from time to time, but you learn to compensate for that.
The defense played hard. We were dealing with the loss of Brian Urlacher, and we were very much aware that we'd have to step up our game to compensate. Brian being out didn't really affect the defensive line as much as the linebackers, but it was different for all of us without him on the field. As you probably noticed, Brian was right there on the sideline cheering us on.
I was inactive again this week, which was somewhat disappointing but something most rookies have to deal with at one time or another. The coaches told me about it the day before the game. I just continued to prepare as I always do, as you need to be ready at all times in this league.
During the game, I made it my job to watch and listen so I could learn as much as I could. I'd talk to the defensive players when they were off the field and listen to what the coaches were saying. That isn't as good as actually being in the game, but it definitely helps the learning curve.
The rookies were excited over Johnny Knox's success. We've become close since all of us were drafted. I think if one of your group does well, then you all feel you've done well. We wish him the best and will enjoy watching him this season.
In my experience, when you get to the big time in the NFL, one of two things are going to happen to you. Either you'll shine when those lights go on, or you'll freeze. Johnny is one of the guys who excels when he needs to. His instincts for the ball and for the game are great.
I was asked if it takes a rookie a long time to adjust to the atmosphere of an NFL stadium. Generally, I'd say it doesn't. You have to remember that many of the rookies come from big college programs, where it isn't unusual to have 100,000 fans at a game. So I'd imagine the NFL isn't all that different for them. I came from a small program at San Jose State, but I like to think that I have the instinct to succeed in front of a crowd as well. I've never been intimidated on the field and have always looked forward to any opportunity to get out there.
The other instinct that Johnny seems to have is in his ability to react quickly to the situation during a game. Some rookies tend to think things over too much. The ones who find early success tend to react first and think later. That impacts the speed these players can bring.
We're just starting to look at the Seattle films. Of course, the uncertainty over who will line up at quarterback for the Seahawks will impact our preparation to some extent. You plan different moves for a quarterback who is very fast as opposed to one who is slightly slower. but the basics are more or less the same. There's always fine-tuning that has to be done on game day.
I've been asked if I've been hearing from long lost relatives and friends I haven't seen since kindergarten. Actually, yes I have. I've had the most requests from old teammates and buddies in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I went to college.
It's a great way to catch up with people I haven't talked to in a while. Just about everybody I know in every town where we'll be playing this season has contacted me. Most of them want tickets. and that's fine. I'll accommodate as many requests as I can. It's always enjoyable to have people who know you sitting in the stands.
Well, back to work. We're headed to Seattle soon. I'll be checking in next week to talk about that game.
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Gilbert Rookie Diary: 11th Entry
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