With the season coming to a close, it has now been more than a month into off-season... and what a change of life! Going from the most hectic time in my life the entire 2013 to now in my first off-season where I'm basically on my own to keep in shape and prepare for next season. The first thing I did was take two weeks off! This has been the most rest I have had since I began school organized sports in Junior High. The rotation of sports along with summer leagues in jr high through high school and the intensity of college football brings mental and physical challenges nonstop. My body definitely needed the rest and recovery but with the help of being snowed in, the apartment walls were beginning to close in on me very quickly. I have chosen to stay in St Louis and train at the facility which hopefully I can be around the coaches and learn while I stay in shape. With workout taking up my mornings I have been able to fill my afternoon with various things that I have either been putting off or always wanted to do. I have been doing charity work, researching charities to get involved with, working on side projects like MotoMe, organizing a possible football camp, and if all else fails dive into some of my hobbies. I'm extremely blessed to have this time to focus on myself to renew my mind and rebuild what I want my life to be about. Along with this renewed focus I am going to redesign and rebuild this website to be more interactive/informative on not only football but other aspects of life, hopefully improving on what I have started. If you have any ideas or suggestions on what you would like more/less or anything to add, please share them below or message me on Facebook or Twitter! Until next time, enjoy this video of my dog running in the snow with the GoPro 3.
The new year is here and looking back on twenty thirteen... what a wild ride it was! This year has been crammed full of exciting changes, new beginnings, and stressful moments. On January 1st 2013 I started my training for the NFL and now on January 1st 2014 I have wrapped up my rookie season. If you have missed my journey this year... it has pretty much gone like this: NFL training, regional combines, pro day, getting married, super regional combine, honeymoon, undrafted free agent signed to St Louis, OTAs, off season workouts, training camp, preseason games, cut after preseason, signed on practice squad, moved from Texas to St. Louis, moved up to active roster week 5, and played/secured my spot on all four special teams to finish the year. Phew! Now you might understand and forgive me for inconsistent blogging and taking a couple of weeks off after the season, I apologize!
Between now and then I have learned a lot and have grown as both a football player and a man of God. The biggest thing I learned in year one is to not focus on or worry about things you can't control. There are so many new distractions that are thrown at you as a NFL rookie and most of it doesn't have to do with your actions. Starting with the hype or lack of hype coming out of college, you get judged and graded for 8 months before you even get a chance to play in a game. For me it was frustrating to see my draft grades slowly decrease when nothing was happening but training. I guess it is easy to forget about a bland and quiet guy who doesn't have the prototypical "look" of a football player. Maybe long hair or tattoos are in order? Ha! The grades finally increased when I had the opportunity to prove myself at regional combines and pro day. The media, scouts, coaches, front office, and everywhere in between is constantly judging your value and making decisions about you throughout this whole process. Unlike college, this means your job and life as you know it is on the line. But if you spend time worrying about what they think about you, where they put you on the depth chart, or if they are going to keep you... this is just wasting your time when you could be improving and proving yourself. This lesson is a constant struggle because so much is on the line in one of the most unpredictable jobs. Along with this I have become stronger in my faith and putting it in God's hands. Moving my wife Ashley and I away from family, out on our own, and not knowing the outcome of my job came with a lot of anxiety and potential guilt if it didn't work out.
Stepping into the facility for the first time I noticed that nothing was too extravagant, like some of the over the top college facilities, but everything I would want or need as a football player. The Rams are the most player oriented team, coaches, and staff I have been around and they take care of us from top to bottom. As for the on the field experience, it was everything that I expected and more! Putting on the NFL jersey and helmet still seams surreal. Even when talking about opponents I can't believe the names that come out of my mouth that I get to go up against each week. As I went through preseason, on to practice squad, and onto the active squad I continued to learn and adjust to the NFL game. The most obvious difference from college is the talent level as everyone is big, fast, strong, and skilled. This makes it that much harder for me on the field, but also off the field as I have to study and be more prepared in order to gain an advantage. Also another difference is time restrictions. In college you have more on your plate when it comes to school so you have more free time. But the NFL is a full time job as most all of my days were from 7-5 of physical and mental work with one day off which is also used for extra film study, lifting, and meeting with coaches. But when it comes down to it football is football, and I had a blast playing this year.
Playing on the "big four" special teams (punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return) with a team full of exciting rookies flying around was awesome. Like I have described it before, it is a track meet out there each and every rep. On special teams you never know when or how the action will come. Some games you simply don't have any opportunities to make any plays. I couldn't get any stats the first few games because of this but finally hit my groove and started to put tackles and knockdowns on the board. Along with the great play of my teammates and great calls from Coach Fassel, we were able to set an NFL record for net punt average of 44.2! Overall we didn't make the playoffs or reach our goals, but had some great positives and growth to take into next year. The day after our final game felt like senior year all over again. Checking out and saying goodbye, because in this business you never know who is coming back. I am now on my first off season on my own and I will stay in St. Louis to train and work to make the team again next year. A year is under my belt and I can't wait to see what God has in store next.
Being caught up in the everyday tasks of life and football can be overwhelming at times. Working from 7 to 5 everyday at a physically taxing job and having one off day, there is always something to do and little time to do it (sound familiar?). I am a very organized person and the type of guy that likes to have my to do list and get things done. But I have soon come to realize that the so called to do list is a never ending document! If I just focus on getting things done or just getting by, then often my priorities get skewed and I miss out on opportunities to serve others and become more involved. With December coming and rookie issues like taxes and financial advice taking most of my off time along with football, I had to take a step back to focus on what is most important. As I have mentioned before I want to continue to progress in my giving back to my community and get involved in service to others. I had the opportunity to visit the St. Louis Children's hospital along with Rampage and cheerleaders Autumn and Hannah. There were also groups from all over St. Louis and some also brought their mascots like: Fredbird, Louie the Bear, Ronald McDonald, and Santa. Even though it's hard to compete with Rampage for fan favorite with the kids, it is always fun to see their reaction to him. Some kids love him and some aren't too sure about him. But between the trio we had we were able to make the kids smile and had a blast. I hope to have brought some holiday cheer to kids that are in a tough situation. Everyone wants to do the big charitable acts and make the big plays, but we often miss the small opportunities that are right in front of us.
We are traveling to Arizona to face the Cardinals this week. Since making my first tackle against the Colts I have been able to improve and make more of an impact every week, making some more tackles and knockdowns. We have to continue to fight and improve each week as we come together as a team. Until next time!
After two weeks of coming close but just not getting the win, we came into Indianapolis trying to get back to playing our game and find a way to win. Well to say the least we came out firing on all cylinders and quickly gained the momentum and confidence that we have been searching for. That rhythm we have been trying to put together seemed to click and even spilled over into quite a lot of dancing celebrations. It seemed to be contagious and after the touchdown by Chris Long, the big plays just seemed to roll in. Everyone seemed to get in on the action and I also got the play I had been looking for... my first NFL tackle! I was not being blocked by a front line guy so I was free to the off returner, the player who runs in front of the ball carrier. I saw my opportunity to cross the blockers face, I took my shot, and it paid off! I didn't even realize I had flipped him until my teammates had told me. In this business it is all about what you put on the field, and as you start to make plays you gain more respect with both coaches and teammates. I'm glad to start building that respect and finally have an official stat on my resume. But the most important stat of the day was the victory and the fun we were having out on the field showed. We are going into an off week and will get a chance to rest, get back to fundamentals, and prepare to build off of this win. Until next time!
My NFL experience has been a roller coaster to say the least. My senior year of college I ranked in the top ten in the nation in both rushing yards and touchdowns. But the hype soon came to an end with a season ending knee injury mid way through the season forcing me to think about a life outside of football. The night of my injury I received a call from Phillip Tanner whom I consider a brother/mentor. He helped me to stay focused on my dreams and gave me advice because he had suffered a knee injury as well but still earned the opportunity to play in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys.
Once I had my surgery I started my road to recovery with the NFL on my mind and I knew it would be challenging to even earn a chance. So I did everything possible to give myself an opportunity to prove to the scouts that I could still play. My days started at 7am and ended at 5pm with me putting all my time into my recovery. Draft day came and my name wasn't called... at first I felt like my long days were a waste, until I received a call from the St Louis Rams later that day wanting to sign me as an undrafted free agent. I felt that this opportunity was a blessing from God and all I needed to prove to the world is that my knee was fine and that I could play at this level.
The first meeting with the team came and seeing so many undrafted players in the room and knowing that the number of spots were limited made every day nerve wrecking. I had to do everything right and try to separate myself from the group. As the group decreased my nerves along with the pressure increased. The day came that the 53 was announced and I had made it, but I didn't get the rush of joy I thought I would because I knew that now I would have to fight to keep my spot.
The season started and with each game I grew more confident that I could play at this level. But once again I am faced with an obstacle. Against the Houston Texans I suffered a high ankle sprain and I am forced to prove once again that an injury cannot keep me from achieving my goal!
Thanks Benny for the guest post. Be sure to go follow him by clicking below!
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.