Where do we start?
I want to address my friend TerpsFan. First of all, go Terps. Just wondering what class we had together back in the day. Tell me a little about yourself.
I guess we can get right down to what people really care about: the start of camp. It’s camp. Everybody has things in their job that are not quite their favorite. This is the toughest time of the year for coaches and players, and our day starts at about 7:30. That’s what time I get up.
I normally go to bed around 10, get home around 9:30, so it’s a pretty long day we spend over here. It’s not always a lot of fun, but the great thing is you get to spend a lot of time with your teammates. It’s when you start to build that team bond.
One of the real exciting things for me is to get to meet the fans. We get to practice right in front of the fans, we’re real close to them, and I’m not sure, but I think we’re one of the few professional teams that are that close. I think we’re about five yards from our fans throughout the course of the entire practice.
And we get to interact with them, it’s really fun. If you get here early, you get to witness the Nick Ferguson show every morning during warm-ups. Nick gets a little crowd participation going, gets some chants going. Today I think he got the wave. Gets the crowd real riled up before practice. It’s a lot of fun. We’re fortunate to have guys like Nick.
I think most of our team really, really appreciate the fans, and like having them out here, and like being able to be this close to them and interact.
I’m hoping that some of the “blog nation” I guess it would be called can make it out if you haven’t already. Feel free to yell at me; I’ll give you a wave or something. So that I know who you are you gotta go by your blog name though, because I don’t know anybody’s real name.
And as far as practice is going, I think all the expectations that we have had this year are still as high as they’ve ever been And they’re probably rising, just seeing how well everybody’s coming together, especially defensively.
I think we’re finally starting to work through all the kinks, and starting to feel comfortable in all the things we have to learn individually, and starting to jell as a team.
Personally, it’s been a lot for me to learn. Right now, I’m still learning all the techniques and defenses from a corner’s perspective, a nickel’s perspective, free safety and strong safety’s perspective. There’s a lot on my plate, and still having to be focused on special teams because Scott O’Brien, our new special teams coach, is a stickler for details. You can really tell that he’s serious about getting special teams right. And that type of stuff carries over to the entire team, and everybody is, I think, a little more focused on special teams this year than we have been in the past.
For the next couple weeks, it’s going to be more of the same. We’re able to get in pads for most of the practice, and start to hit, which is always kind of a double-edged sword. We all play football because we’re not afraid of contact, and we might actually enjoy it. But those first couple hits, you start to feel them in your neck and in your back and in your shoulders. No matter how long you’ve been playing, those first couple days of hitting, it’s rough to get into the groove.
I laid a big hit on Brandon Stokley yesterday. I was really ticked off. Midway through yesterday’s practice, I was having fun, everything was going good, and I was pursuing to the ball full speed and Nate Jackson gave me a solid hit, right in the back. It didn’t hurt so bad, but it just ticked me off because he hit me in the back, so it put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
I never could find Nate again, but I ended up taking it out on the rest of the receivers and tight ends or running backs I could get my hands on. I had to hand out a few apologies afterwards.
I think I threw number 16 (Marquay McDaniel) into the crowd a little bit because I was trying to get my hands on Nate and he was the closest man.
I think I gave Mike Bell a nice blindside hit and gave it to him pretty good. And then to end off practice, I really, really got underneath Stokley. I felt bad because he’s gonna be an important part of our offense this coming year, and I definitely had to apologize. It was completely clean, but I gave him all he wanted and lifted him off his feet.
The fans liked it, but I don’t know if they really liked it, or if it was one of those sympathy things. Like because we’re on defense they feel like they have to cheer for us sometimes.
It was probably more of an “ahh” than an “ooh.” I’m not sure.
But we’ve had some big hits out here since practice has been going on, which all the fans enjoy. It’s tough, though, because fans really like offense. And they pretend like they like us on defense, and they cheer every now and then when we make a play, but they really want to see somebody beat us and score a touchdown. That’s really what they’re out here for.
But fortunately, we have a lot of big-name superstars on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary, and the fans enjoy seeing them.
I actually think I caught about three or four fans cheering for Champ tying his shoe, which is a true story. It’s amazing.
Every time I think that the love for Champ has reached its peak, somebody else pushes it to the limit and it reaches a new high.
The man was tying his shoe. “Way to go Champ, good job tying your shoe!” is verbatim what I heard. Then about five or six fans jumped on the bandwagon, “Yeah, Champ!” which is hilarious.
We have a really good time out here. One of the good things about us spending so much time together is we get to make fun of each other, which is one of my favorite things to do.
Myself and Hamza Abdullah, I think, have been named the resident jokesters of the team. When we get a break, we normally just sit at our lockers, which just about everybody has to pass our lockers to get to their locker. We just sit there and everybody walks by, and we got a joke or two for them.
About 10, 20 minutes in, we get a little crowd, and everybody wants to sit by us. I don’t know if it’s to get laughs, or if it’s in order to dodge the jokes because they’re not directly in our line of sight.
But camp is a fun, but not fun time. It’s good hard work and you feel good about yourself every night, like you’ve gotten a lot accomplished, which is good. You get a good night’s sleep.
The food — I guess it’s tough to properly season food when it’s mass-produced. That’s also difficult to deal with. It’s really hard when some of the veteran guys don’t have to do special teams, so when we have a special teams practice, they all leave the Dove Valley facility and come back with Cheesecake Factory bags full of delicious snacks while we’re in here eating the same goulash that we had the day before.
I mean, everybody loves a good leftover, so that’s one thing about here, you get delicious leftovers often.
I think we got Swiss steak yesterday. I don’t know the Swiss people, but if that’s what they call steak, I feel really sorry for them.
But that’s just me being a good jokester, like I’ve been known to do, because I recognize that our food staff works really hard, and we really do appreciate it. It’s just a joke.