It was great to have the opportunity to be out there on the field last weekend after being on the sideline for so long. It felt really good, and I definitely was ready. I'd been working hard during the week aiming toward the chance to get in, but I didn't know for sure that I'd be in until the day before the game. That was exciting.
It meant a lot to get the chance to play. You can only learn so much when you are watching and not playing, so I think this will be a boost to my overall learning curve.
I found the speed when I was playing to be very comfortable. Everything moves faster than it does in practice, but I never felt that I was getting behind. Hopefully, I was able to show I can do this and I did some things I can build on in the future.
We were really up for this game against the Rams. We hadn't been at home for a while, and it was good to be back in front of our fans. Also we all felt it was extremely important to turn our momentum around. Nobody likes to lose.
I was asked recently if the team prepares differently for a game against a team with a winning record as opposed to playing against a team that has lost a few. My answer would be no. You always prepare the same. We knew that the Rams didn't have the best record, but that didn't mean they couldn't do well.
The NFL is full or surprises, and you definitely don't want to be the team that overlooked your opponent only to have them come to your home field and beat you. Everybody is a professional, and every play counts. And while we did not have any surprises from St. Louis on Sunday, it was definitely good to get the win.
I felt that our defense put in a strong performance. It seemed that we were working well together. The more that happens, the more it increases your confidence overall.
We are in a game-by-game approach right now. That's different from the approach you take earlier in the season, when you tend to take the long view. For us, now each game is a must-win. We want to wind up the season on a positive note and get things in place for next year. That doesn't mean we don't think we can get to the playoffs this year. Anything is possible, but it's more of a single-game focus from here through the end of the season.
The Packers game will be an important one. Rivalry contests always are something you really want to win. Looking back to the start of the season, we were pretty evenly matched. Their season went one way, and ours went another. We lost in September in Green Bay, but this game is on our turf and we definitely plan to win.
I expect an emphasis on running the ball by both teams on Sunday. Realistically, in December when it's really cold, that is what you tend to rely on. When the ball is frozen, it's harder to catch and more difficult to throw with accuracy. It really changes the dynamics of an offense.
The coaches have told me that my strength is defending the run. The reason for that is that I have good acceleration and can get across the line to the running back quickly. I'm big and strong, and usually I'm a good matchup for a physical tight end. I can usually get good penetration. Pass defense is a different technique entirely. I can do that as well, but I feel I am more explosive and more effective against the run.
I was asked this week about the equipment we wear. In college, it's mandated. You get no choice as far as what pads you wear and what you elminate. In the pros, you can choose. You have to have a helmet and shoulder pads, but other than that, it's your choice. Some guys opt for fewer pads to get more speed. They are usually the safeties or running backs. The linemen tend to wear more pads. But it's a personal choice and might change from game to game.
Another question I had this week was about Rusty Jones, our strength coach. Rusty is one of the top men at that job in the league. I had a great conditioning coach in college, but Rusty's program is really excellent. All aspects of our bodies are considered, including diet. Interestingly enough, we often have to be careful to maintain our weight, so our diet has quite a few calories. If you are this physically active, you lose weight pretty easily.
I'm really looking forward to the Packers game. Hope that I get the opportunity to play. I think it will be a hard-fought, physical contest, and it would be fun to be a part of all that.
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Gilbert Rookie Diary: 19th Entry
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