Chicago Bears running back Michael Ford, an undrafted rookie out of LSU, has made his mark on special teams this year. This week, special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis singled out Ford as a player who has surpassed expectations.
Bear Report sits down with Ford to discuss his first year in the NFL.
"It's good to be settling in, getting the chance to play. I'm definitely enjoying myself and learning more each and every day I'm out there.
"One thing I am noticing, and I'm sure every rookie would tell you the same thing, is that the NFL season is long. I know this isn't a secret and we all did know this ahead of time, but once you get to that point where the college season is wrapping up and you're still playing, its kind of a shock. I'm not complaining, though. It's just something that my body is aware of and that I'm paying attention to.
"Bye week was at the perfect time, I think. It was a great opportunity to rest and rehab a little. Then once we were back again at Halas Hall, I was ready to go.
"It's been an interesting season so far, all the highs and lows. When you win, there is no better feeling. When you don't win? Not so good. I enjoyed seeing Lambeau Field. A lot of history there set in a state-of-the-art stadium. It was so loud there but I'm from the SEC so it wasn't anything I hadn't heard before. Not that hard to concentrate despite the noise.
"Beating the Packers was sweet for my first experience with that rivalry. It was a very important game for us and it was great to get that win.
"Last week against the Lions was incredibly frustrating. To come that close and not get the win is not a good feeling at all. What you need to do, though, is study the film, learn what you can, correct your mistakes and move on. For myself, I'm always trying to see where I can do better. Am I reacting quickly enough? Is my technique sound? That kind of thing."
DeCamillis said this week he's happy with your play this season. Your thoughts?
"I think he sees that I'm working hard and developing rapidly. With the injuries now to this team, it's important that the young guys step up. It's that Next Man Up philosophy.
"I've always heard about the ‘rookie wall'. It's the time when you feel you're sort of stuck and not progressing as you want to. It's a long season and at times it can be both tiring and discouraging. Hearing coach say that about me is amazing. That's so important to me. It means he sees that I am improving and contributing to the team. There's nothing better than hearing that.
"This week is another tough game. The Ravens are good and we expect a contest. Baltimore is a physical team. We can only control what we do, though, get better each and every day. That's the bottom line for us. As a player, you want all your hard work to show on game day. Momentum in the NFL means a lot so you always want yours to be in a positive direction."
Is it tough to stay focused at this point in the season and not look ahead to what might happen in the future?
"That's easy. For me, it's a matter of looking just a day or two ahead. It's all what we call Football 101. It's a learning experience where you can only work with what is directly in front of you. I think you can get distracted by thinking about the playoffs, or even about the end of the regular season. I put my concentration 100 percent on what we are working with now. I try to pick just one thing that I want to improve on each time I come to practice. When I am satisfied with that, I move on to the next thing.
"Looking back just a few months ago to when I came to the team, I am amazed how unseasoned I was. You come from being a big deal on the field in a strong college program to being the guy who knows not much about the NFL. A year ago I never could have predicted how things would shake out. There is so much to learn and so little time to feel comfortable on the field. But that said, I feel so good when I have the opportunity to play. It's a great challenge. There is no substitute for game-day experience and the more I can get, the better.
"My family was in town to see me play last weekend so that was exciting. It was important to me that they saw that all the work in the gym and on the field in grade school, high school and college paid off in the long run."
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.