It's good to be here and to have the opportunity to work out with this team. So far, it hasn't been too much more than I'd expected. I'm working with the position coach and generally getting accustomed to the routine here.
It hasn't been too difficult physically. We're able to pace ourselves pretty well. To me, it seems like spring ball that we had in college. From what I've heard though, once we get to camp later this summer, things will get a lot more intense.
I haven't begun the relocation process just yet. There's too much else to think about at this point. The Bears have the rookies housed together in a local motel, then most of what we do is based here at Halas Hall. One the OTAs are done later in June, I'll begin to get serious about looking for a place to live during the season.
Everybody wants to know how the rookies are doing with the playbook. I'd say so far, so good. You get a lot of stuff thrown at you when you first start an NFL career. The playbook is definitely part of that. There's a lot to learn in it and it's a sizable thing to absorb, but I haven't had any difficulty with it. I feel that I'm able to pick it up pretty well.
Football is football pretty much anywhere you play. It's just a matter of learning your team's individual system. The names of the plays are different from what we used at San Jose State but, other than that, I don't anticipate any big problems getting comfortable with what we need to learn.
It's fun to meet the other players and to be on the field with guys I'd only seen on television before. But once play starts, we are all football players. The one thing I've definitely noticed is a much more advanced level of competition. These guys are very skilled. The job I think is most important right now is to raise my level of play so I can compete effectively.
In terms of the play on the field, so far at least it is pretty much what I had expected. When you're on the D-line, the main thing is to get on the ball. That's pretty simple really. Everybody who is on the D-line here knows that role.
DT Jarron Gilbert
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images
The pace is fast, and I'm sure once we are in camp that will accelerate even more. What I personally am concentrating on right now are the nuances of technique. I want to tighten things up a bit. I need to understand the Bears defense better so I become a better player.
I am in a specialty position, and most of what I do is reaction. If I understand the situation and am able to react quickly and correctly, then things should turn out well. My immediate concern is to do everything I can do to get better so I can contribute positively to this team.
Rookies sometimes have problems because they think before reacting during a play. That hasn't happened to me so far, and I hope it never does. I am familiar enough with the physical moves that I just go into that at the start of a play, rather than worry about what might be coming next. To get your best speed, you always want to be working on instinct – not thinking about the whole thing.
It's been fun to be with the other rookies both on and off the field. I've also found that the veteran players are helpful. They take the time to explain things and make us feel comfortable.
My father was in the NFL back in the 1980s. He played offensive line for the Saints. He hasn't given me any specific advice that I can translate to my situation with the Bears, but I do have a certain comfort level having grown up with a father in professional football. But overall, this is something I need to learn about for myself. Nothing anybody can tell you will make quite the same impact as actually having the personal experience.
I guess if I had to tell you one thing he always reminds me to do, it would be to take things one day at a time. That's not very complicated advice, but it makes sense and it works well for me. Growing up with a father who was in the NFL was an advantage in one sense. This is a familiar way of life to me. That probably helps my comfort level and aids my learning curve to some extent.
I'm feeling good mentally and physically. I'm used to a lot of physical activity. In high school I played football, did shot put in track and played basketball. In college, I only played football but that was a pretty intensive program. Now I am looking forward to concentrating on my life in athletics at this level.
I've been asked what I will bring to the Bears. I think that my strengths are my athleticism, my speed and my desire to win. I'm not afraid of hard work, and I love to win. I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to be a success in this league.