Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Week into the Grind

     We are now one week into training camp!  This week has been a swarm of nerves, emotions, meetings, practices, and an overall long week of work.  Coming out of the rookie portion of training camp I was anxious to make an impact, showing I could be successful and competitive with the veterans.  I didn't know where they were going to put me and what the coaches had in mind for me.  Well it didn't take long for a depth chart to show up for the first practice and I realized, along with all the other undrafted rookies, just how much of an uphill battle it was going to be.  Having Matt Giordano as a late addition to camp, I was bumped down to the 3's in both defense and special teams.  I thought this might happen and I wasn't surprised, but it takes the wind out of your sails a little bit when you see it on paper for the first time.  This along with the flow of an NFL training camp has brought a lot of learning and adjustments for me.

     I have really had to focus and work hard on how I practice and my mental mind set in training camp.  Coming from college practices as a starter to NFL practices as an undrafted rookie with the 3rd team is quite a transition.  As the week has gone along, I have continued to work on the details of my technique and execution.  From full speed drills every rep, to communicating loud and crisp, finishing at the ball, competing against my teammates and giving a good look there are certain new practice habits that I am having to form.  It is almost like the way you play in a game is expected now in practice one short interval at a time.  Also, mental reps and staying ready at this high level is important because the scarcity of reps.  The 3rd defense may only get 2-4 plays at the end of a period and you have to stay warm and mentally sharp after being out 14-16 plays.  Not being in the consistent rotation, it is hard to get into a flow.  I have continued to improve on staying locked in and focused from the sideline, and have to fight off frustration and worrying about factors I can't control.  Every athlete is competitive and wants to be out there but I have to focus on what I can control, do the best I can with my opportunities, and let the depth chart fall into place.

     The pads finally came on and now we are slowly getting closer to finding out who is Tarzan and who is Jane.  I loved getting back in pads as it is a little bit closer to a game situation and even more evaluating of players can be done.  Hitting and competing against each other always gets the practice hype going and makes it even more fun with a few scuffles mixed in.  I had a great first day in pads showing well in special teams with a take-down in punt return of a starting gunner and finished practice with an interception.  The weather has been great and this is definitely the most cool I have practiced in this time of the year.  Even with the cool temperatures, I guess I sweat more in this environment because I have been dripping.  I don't know if it is the humidity or what, but that helmet visor has to get cleaned every day!  Overall the first week has been a lot of things for me, but I am excited to keep working as hard as I can to earn a spot and let everything I can't control fall into place.

-Student of the Game

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