Bear Report caught up with Chicago Bears safety Jeremy Jones, who was on the sidelines for his first NFL regular season game this past Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Jones discusses the experience, as well as what he expects when the team travels to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers tomorrow night.
"I was inactive for the first game and although that was somewhat of a disappointment, I viewed it as a learning experience. I’m here to raise the level of my play as quickly as I can, so watching whether the vets do their jobs is my main occupation right now.
"Last weekend was incredible. The first home game and the atmosphere at Soldier Field was electric. It was everything I thought it would be and more. You could look into the stands and see the pure enjoyment there. It was unlike anything I’d experienced at Wayne State, that’s for sure.
"At times the crowd was so loud that I could feel the vibrations through my feet. That was completely amazing, an almost surreal experience. I thought to myself ‘Here I am on the Chicago Bears sidelines during an NFL game’. How great is that? It’s something I’d dreamed of as a young player in high school and college. Now the dream has come true.
"I think that most rookies have a hard time believing that they have made it to the NFL. I know I did. I wondered who would even look at players from my school. When I got the invitation to the combine by e-mail last winter, I was sure it was one of my friends playing a practical joke. I kept deleting those e-mails and getting irritated that somebody was spamming me.
"Finally I called my agent and he said “Have you read the message?” Of course, I hadn’t. He told me to take a look, which I did. I could hardly believe my eyes. It was the chance to show my skills in front of pro coaches and GMs. Although it was a long way from Wayne State to the NFL, a door of opportunity had opened. Draft weekend wasn’t wonderful but I kept my faith that good things would happen. Eventually they did.
"What did I learn last weekend? I compared the play on the field to what we’d put into our game plan. I didn’t see anything that was surprising because we’d been well prepared. It was an education for me, though, to see how well our DBs were playing. To be effective at that position, it’s all about anticipation. You need to feel where the ball will go then be in the right place at the right time to do something about it. They did that on every play.
"I listened in on the conversations as players were rotated in and out of the game. I asked questions. I watched each play. It was like a classroom for excellence in football.
"The intensity of the game was definitely higher than what I’d seen before. The speed was definitely faster than the preseason. It was very different on the field than what you see on TV.
"If you are a defensive player, that means you need to pay attention all of the time. You need to react quickly. That’s something I’ve been working on since arriving in Bourbonnais. There’s more I need to be doing but I feel that the proper technique is coming to me.
"In a few days we play the Packers. I’ve never been to Lambeau Field but the vets have been talking a lot about it. The fan noise is supposed to be intense. We’ve been practicing with noise machines so we can adjust to that. The fact that this will be a nationally televised game will make the fans even crazier.
"I can’t wait to be there. Although I won’t know if I’ll be playing until shortly before game time, my job is to be mentally and physically ready just in case. I’ll hope that I do get in, but if not, I’m a patient person. I’m willing to watch and learn until the coaches feel I’m ready to play."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.