Heading to Cleveland, I couldn't believe my first NFL game was upon me. It snuck up on me as I have been in a whirlwind lately and focused on training camp. As it is with preseason games, the game plan was simple and the opponent scouting was not too in depth because of that same reason. The reps are so limited in these preseason games yet they are the most important evaluation of your talent. I was excited to see that I was with the 2's and the 3's on the depth chart on both defense and special teams. The travel and hotel were both top notch and I enjoyed the step up from college. We definitely have everything we need both nutritionally and mentally to relieve us from any distractions. After getting to catch up on some sleep and pre game meal, the nerves started to kick in as we had meetings and then took off for the stadium. It was finally here, the opportunity I have been working for all year!
My first NFL experience lived up to the hype. Putting on the uniform and running onto the field for the first time was an amazing feeling. The energy and unity on this team made it the most fun I have had playing football in a long time. After the nerves and excitement of the start of the game, I had to focus on staying warm on the sideline as I awaited my turn. It is quite difficult as you get cold and tight watching the game along with the bench fans blowing on you. I was especially worried about this because coach Fassel showed us a highlight video earlier this week on what happens if you don't stay warm... a bunch of players pulling hamstrings on kickoff! Thanks for showing us that coach haha. But I managed to stay warm enough before I started to get reps in late 2nd quarter. I think I played good for my first game, but have a lot to improve on. It killed me not to come up with a diving interception, but hopefully I got that drop out of the way. Other than that I had some good tackles and played well on special teams. I am going to have to get used to not making every tackle and the smaller amount of opportunities in a game! It took me a couple of series to even hit someone because the swarm of the defense was so good. In college I usually played around 90 plays a game and averaged around 6-10 tackles a game. Well the decrease from that won't necessarily be a bad thing, but I will have to make every opportunity count!
We didn't win the game, but as long as we learn from the film and get better each game... that is what preseason is for! Part 1 of the interview is in the books and I can't wait for the next one. I'm blessed and thankful for all the support from family, friends, and fans! Looking back it is hard to believe that I played my first NFL game, and what I usually watch on TV is being played out in my life. I can't waste this opportunity. Back to training camp and another week of work!
-Student of the Game