It's great being here at last. I just can't believe it. My family and I sat in our homes in New Jersey during the NFL Draft. That was a very nervous time, let me tell you, and I'm glad it's over. I couldn't be happier to be returning to the Chicago area and playing for the Bears.
I've been asked if I felt that I should have gone higher in the draft. I suppose that my answer would be yes, but that doesn't mean that I am at all unhappy with the way things played out in the end. What I heard later was that some teams were a little leery about my injuries. I had knee surgery in 2009, and that set me back a little. I feel that I am completely healed, and I know that I am performing as well or better than I did before any of that ever happened.
I graduated out of a great athletic program. We had an excellent football situation at Northwestern, and I'd like to express by appreciation to coach Pat Fitzgerald for that. He worked us hard but also emphasized character in his players. I think that both those attributes will serve all of us well from now on.
It was wonderful to see so many of the NU players here this weekend. Zeke Markshausen, Malcolm Arrington and Eric Peterman were in the locker room this morning. They will get the opportunity to work out with the Bears, and hopefully things will turn out well for them.
Am I nervous? Surprisingly enough, I slept very well last night. I realize that from today on many things in my life will be changing, but I feel at peace with it. I don't think anything will be thrown at me that I can't handle. As I flew in from New Jersey yesterday, I kept thinking how fortunate I am to be able to continue playing the game that I love for a team I really respect. It just doesn't get better than that.
When we first arrived at Halas Hall, we were introduced to the coaches. What a great opportunity to not only meet these men, but to play for them. I feel confident that they will improve my skills and utilize me in a way that can benefit the team as a whole.
There's so much for me to be working on here that I can't even begin to list everything. First and foremost would be learning the playbook. If you don't know the plays, you aren't going to go very far in the NFL.
The on-field work is extremely important, as well. Today, we are more or less feeling each other out and learning the system. We are just doing walk-throughs in shirts and shorts with no hard hits. We aren't anywhere near the time to start using pads.
What I've heard is that the speed and the intensity in the NFL are at a much higher level than in college ball. I'm sure that assessment is correct, but I haven't experienced it for myself just yet.
For this weekend, I'll be concentrating on learning as many of the fundamentals as I can and acclimating to Halas Hall and to my new teammates. I'm extremely fortunate that, having gone to a local college, the geographical area is familiar to me. That makes it much easier to adjust to this new career.
I'll be working on my speed and on the pass rush, primarily. I need to be able to get off the ball fast and move through the line. Also, I want to make sure I'm not over-thinking anything. At this level, it's important to react first and think later.
It's going to be a great adventure and a wonderful opportunity. I thank the Bears for drafting me and for feeling I am a good fit for this team. I'll do everything I can to prove that assessment was correct.
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BR Rookie Diary: Wootton, 1st Entry
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