, drafted in the second round (60th overall) out of Miami (Fla.), will chronicle his rookie season with periodic diary entries for HoustonTexans.com.*
The days are starting to get longer. You come in with excitement on the first couple days you report; everything is so new and so fresh you've been wanting it for a while. It's still exciting, but the days get long. You're waking up at 5:45 in the morning, you're checking back in and checking out at 9:30 at night, so it gets to the point where you really have to keep pushing yourself. You really have to stay focused, and the time you get off, you've got to cherish it. I noticed that since I've been here.
When Coach Kub gives us a little time off to relax, stay off your feet. Watch some TV, eat, kick back, because I see a lot guys, they overstress it. You don't want to get overwhelmed with the information or where you're pressing a lot. You don't perform at your best when you go through those moments, so I just learned to cherish every break I get.
The heat is something I've been dealing with. I've tried to get myself into a routine every night as far as drinking water, taking down Gatorades in the meetings, using those electrolyte packets and stuff like that. I try to make myself drink as much as possible. But the last two days, the heat's probably been at its best. I felt like I wanted to get my first IV yesterday. Man, it was so hot, I almost went in and got it, but I said, 'Nah, I'm gonna hold off on it until it's for emergency purposes.' So I'm just learning how to deal with it, asking other guys what they do to deal with it; trying to do what they do.
Each day, I'm feeling more comfortable with the defense. Some days are better than others. Every day is not a good day. Some days, you go out there and you're lights out. You're on everything. You're making calls, you're playing the right stuff, you're making plays. Then I had one day where I was a little off. I was making little mental mistakes. I wasn't in the right position. I wasn't in the right spots where I was supposed to be. And I kind of felt a little down that day. That was one of those days you feel a little down on yourself, so you've just gotta go back to what you know best. Continue to study, and continue to work and get better. This is the NFL; everybody out there has talent. You can't let one day like that ruin the rest of your camp, and I was able to bounce back from that and string together a couple of good days.
I've been getting some good feedback from the coaches. The coaching staff is really hard on me, though, being a rookie. Coach (Vance) Joseph, he wants to make sure that I cherish everything, that I really am studying and doing the right things that I'm supposed to do. So I'm getting no slack at all in the meeting rooms, but they do a good job of encouraging you, too.
I had a great time the past couple days with the fans coming out to practice. They've been very encouraging. They know a lot of information about you. I had a couple fans come and talk to me about my high school ball. They remember watching me in high school. My high school played on ESPN one game when I was a senior. They remember me going out there and handling business in high school, and they've been following me ever since. That's been exciting.
Our team had a cookout on Friday. We enjoyed that; it was just a chance for us to get to bond with each other. We had some burgers on the grill and just guys playing cards and playing dominoes, just kicking it, just getting to know each other a little bit better. Those have been some of the moments I've enjoyed the most -- meeting different guys from different parts of the country, talking to those guys. I had a conversation with Shiloh Keo, the safety we drafted, just comparing where I'm from in Miami to comparing where he was in school in Idaho. Obviously two different places, two atmospheres totally different, and we got a chance to just talk and just share some of our experiences. I got a chance to really create a bond with not just him, but everybody else I've come in contact with over here.
Monday Night Football coming up, this is exciting. This is my first professional game. It's preseason, but I'm a rookie, so this counts for me. I get a lot of reps and get a chance to see how I measure up, so I don't even view it as a preseason game. It's just the first game, my first NFL game. This is what young guys like me look forward to. Some of the vets, they know it's their time to sit back and just cheer us on and see what they've been teaching us over the past two weeks. But for us, this is it. This is our go.
I started to visualize it yesterday morning, actually. When I came in to work, I saw all the ESPN trucks outside. They were setting up the satellites, setting up different things, and I was like, "OK, this is for real." Then I come inside and I go in Reliant and I see now they have the grass down. The field, the stadium is set up like it's going to be on gameday. The past couple weeks, the stadium has been set up for different events they've been having. They had the Governor come in with the prayer circle, and I think they had the circus before that. Yesterday was my first day actually getting to see it as the football stadium, so that was excxiting to come in and walk out on the field and just look around in amazement and be like, "Man, this is an incredible building." I can't wait to be out there on that field on Monday night.