Thursday, October 24, 2013

Physical Game

     Coming off our first outdoor game of the season, one of only three this year, we took a big blow in losing not only the game but our starting quarterback also.  Tempers flared which led to some fights, an ejection, and penalties.  One reason is that we played our most physical game of the year and stuffed the run.  This is a great place to start and must build off of this.  We still have work to do, but I can't break it down any further than that because that is not my place.  I have confidence in the players on the field that we can still be a great defense.  We have all the pieces but we must continue to work and come together to make a unit.  As for my current role on special teams I continue to learn off the more game reps I get.  I started again on KO, KOR, and PR.  You can't duplicate game reps and when they happen is the only time you figure out what techniques truly work and don't.  NFL blocking on special teams is almost the opposite of what you think.  Instead of pushing someone out of the runners way, they grab and pull you in close to them as they drive you.  Notice I say grab instead of hold haha, it's an art.  Whatever you call it, defeating and applying these blocks are something I continue to work on.  We won the special teams battle overall and as we face more teams I continue to be impressed with our tenacity.  We have to keep working hard and it will pay off in the end... keep chipping away like the parable of the stone cutter, will have to explain that one later.

     Prayers go out to Sam and his family as he begins the road to recovery.  As a team we must pull together, step up our play, and keep playing.  Kellen Clemens will lead this team and we have confidence that he is ready to step in and take the reigns.  I am excited to be back home this week and playing Monday Night Football!  Whether there is a full house stadium or us just on the practice field, we are ready to play and find a way to win.

-Student of the Game

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Texas Homecoming

     We headed down to Houston, Texas this week to face the Texans and this was my first "homecoming" of my NFL career.  My family is closer to Dallas, but driving around the big state of Texas is nothing new to my supportive family.  I had quite a cheering section as I had to buy 18 tickets to the game!  Now I have seen "Broke" and had enough financial rookie meetings to know that this is one of the many reasons that players end up losing money, so thankfully my family understood that they had to pay me back for the seats.  I can provide for my immediate family sometimes, but there is a big jump from college to NFL on the price of tickets and the number of games we play.  Just a small detail that if you don't keep track of as a player can get out of hand... on average players spend $10K on tickets every year!  Nevertheless, I loved being back in Texas and getting to play in front of family and friends.  

     Reliant stadium is an awesome stadium and fun place to play.  I didn't have bug eyes though because I played my last bowl game in the stadium.  Both teams were coming into the game 2-3 and looking to get back on track.  It was one of those games where we started out hot and the momentum and fun just continued to build during the entire game.  I secured some spots on special teams for the time being and performed well but still have yet to get my first tackle.  The best part was scoring on all three sides of the ball!  The picture above shows us celebrating in the end zone after we scored on kickoff.  A great team win to get us back on track and 2-0 in the second quarter of the season so far.  We have to continue to improve and build off of this win next week.

     Today I had the opportunity to present the trophy for the Rams High School Blood Drive Challenge to Belleville East.  I want to say congrats to them for donating over 150 pints of blood which will save up to 500 lives!  The Red Cross blood donations are a great way to give back and these kids did a great job!  I had fun at the assembly and wish them luck on their homecoming game this weekend.

-Student of the Game

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Back in Action

     It felt great to be back on the field Sunday!  Going from scout team one week to be thrown into a game plan and suiting up the next week for my first NFL game is quite a turn around.  As soon as I learned I was active I began to talk with "Bones", the special teams coordinator, in order to try and make my way onto the field and contribute however I could.  A spot really hadn't opened up, but my preseason work showed enough that I would have an opportunity to rotate in and get to play on punt return, kickoff, and kickoff return.  I also really honed in on being ready to go in at either safety position.  Both these opportunities can come at any moment and my performance will either help the team win or hurt the team... my first impression to prove I deserve to be here.

     A restless night of nerves and excitement didn't stop me from having a great first game.  As Brandon McGee would call it the "special teams track meet" was exactly how he described it.  There is nothing but speed on special teams and a big part of your success is on effort and execution.  I felt like I was running my 40 yard dash on pro day all game long.  I loved flying down the field and using my speed and ability to give the best field position possible to both offense and defense.  Our team battled through some adversity early to turn the game around and come up with a big team victory.  It is not easy to win football games in the NFL and we are going to take them on one week at a time.  With a renewed mindset after the first quarter of our schedule we look to continue getting back on track and improving off of this victory.  I'm heading back to my home state of Texas this Sunday and look forward to playing in front of some of my friends and family. 

-Student of the Game

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Process

(My Helmet History)

     I'm back!  After a couple of weeks of clearing my mind, finally settling into my St Louis apartment, and building some washer boards (still not done) in my spare time... I am returning to my blog.  It has been a crazy couple of weeks and we have finished the first quarter of the season.  As a member of the practice squad I did everything the team did as normal including lifting, meetings, and practice.  The only difference is that you run scout team and don't suit up or travel for games.  It was a role that took me back to my red-shirt days at Texas Tech where I ran scout team against Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree.  Except this time my job is not guaranteed.  I took this as an opportunity to get in the weight room more and give the best look I could for the upcoming opponent.  Well the first four games haven't gone as planned or expected for both the team and myself individually.  I can't speak for the team as I was on the practice squad, but for myself this struggle had brought me to focus on something we had learned in Rookie School.

     "The process of getting what you want" is what John Hartwig called it.  John and his company Pro/Spur is all about character building and he taught us this lesson at one of our Rookie School sessions that the Rams put on every Monday afternoon.  The lesson was simple, but exactly what I needed to focus on.  He got us to write out what our goals were, long and short term, in both football and life.  Then the steps that you can take and control in order to get you there.  One of my short term goals was to make the 53 man roster and the steps I could take to get me there.  For the first time after this lesson I was truly not thinking about roster moves and focused on working as hard as I could to improve myself and be intentional about taking steps to reach my goals.  I refused to get my hopes up anymore trying to guess what was going to happen, as I had been disappointed a lot so far.  Well it might have been a coincidence, but I finally got the opportunity I was looking for and was pulled out of meetings to get bumped up to active roster!  I was sent upstairs to sign my new contract and then told to go back to watching film...haha back to work.  We have a big game coming up this week because it is the next one.  The scrutiny and pressure to perform will always be there from the coaches on down.  But we must continue to stay together, focus on the process, and focus on things we can control in our plan to get back on track.  I look forward to my first NFL game and doing everything I can to help the team win!

-Student of the Game