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Rookies bond at NFL Symposium


Linebacker Brian Cushing and safety Troy Nolan didn't know what to expect when they found out they were rooming together at last week's NFL Rookie Symposium. The two have become friends during the Texans' offseason workouts, but neither was excited about sitting through three days of meetings in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with all of the rookies selected in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Nolan and Cushing were pleasantly surprised. Not only did they enjoy hearing from speakers like Mike Tomlin, Eddie Royal, Marcellus Wiley, Jerome Bettis, Nnamdi Asomugha and Cris Carter, they ended up close friends.

"Troy Nolan and Brian Cushing became really good friends," cornerback Glover Quin said. "When Brian left to go back to New Jersey, Troy got sad and wasn't his usual upbeat self. At the airport, he put on his headphones and just listened to music. We started telling him that he had a man-crush on Brian."

{QUOTE}All kidding aside, the Texans' eight draft picks agreed that they learned valuable lessons on financial management, the league's personal conduct code, the banned-substance policy, and how to thrive during training camp and a 16-game season.

"They pretty much told us the do's and don'ts of the NFL," center Antoine Caldwell said. "They said a lot of important things about how to manage your finances.

"You have to learn how to say no to people, even if it's your close friends or your family members. Everybody is not going to have your best interests at heart, so you have to say no to people. And if you can't do something yourself, get someone close to you who you trust to do it for you.

"And save, save, save as much as you can. Save your signing bonus or anything like that. Set up your investments and start accumulating some money because right now times are hard and you need to be able to save that money up as much as you can."

For defensive end Connor Barwin, the most valuable advice came from Tomlin, who talked to the players about reaching their potential on the field. Tomlin's motto was: "Don't talk about it; be about it."

"The best advice I got was Mike Tomlin talking about how to prepare for camp, going in the best shape you can and to use the people you have around you so that you can focus on football," Barwin said. "The other thing we learned about was all the history with the NFL, how far it's come and what guys before us had to get the type of benefits we have now."

All 256 draft picks arrived on Sunday, June 28, for the annual program hosted by the NFL and NFLPA. They attended intensive sessions running from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. At the end of each evening before the 11:30 p.m. bed check, the players spent time hanging out with their teammates.

"That was the No. 1 thing I feel the best about," Caldwell said. "All of us went down there and had a great time together and joked around, cut up and also learned a lot together. A lot of things that I didn't know about the guys before, like where they are from, their family situations and stuff like that, we got that all on the table. Now, I feel a closer bond to my teammates."

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