It's been a tough two weeks for us with the Rams. Two close games, two near wins.
The next few days after a game are pretty rough. I live in the ice tub. There's a lot of ice, and a lot of nursing the injuries to get ready for another week of football. This week, we're getting ready for the Washington Redskins and it's going to be another battle.
Fighting through Raiders (St. Louis Post Dispatch).
But for us to be successful on the field, we have to stop hurting ourselves. We're inflicting ourselves with errors that we can't overcome, be that not taking advantage of turnovers, or having costly personal fouls. Those situations are preventing us from closing out these games.
As a captain and one of the guys looked upon to lead the team, I have to emphasize that we want to go out there, and play not only physical football, but physically smart football. Just be smarter. I don't believe that you make it to this level and not know some of the basic rules of the game.
But day-by-day, we are making some progress.
I've been impressed with our defense so far. They've been playing well, and they're going to get better as the season goes on and as they start to gel. They've kept our last two opponents to 17 and 16 points. When you're keeping teams that low on the scoreboard, you're doing a really good job and giving us a chance to win. They're creating turnovers as well. We just have to take advantage.
As a captain and one of the guys looked upon to lead the team, I have to emphasize that we want to go out there, and play not only physical football, but physically smart football.
As an offensive unit, we're moving the ball well. I feel like we can move the ball on any defense that we happen to come across. The problem that we're facing now is not capitalizing with touchdowns once we get into the red zone, and I think that comes from everyone not executing the set plays that are called.
I think my personal performance is just average right now. I don't think I'm at the point where I'm clicking on all cylinders. I feel that as the season goes on I will get into my groove again, but I do see myself playing much better football in the weeks to come. It's not anything I have to do, it's just about continuing to play and getting into a groove in the flow of the season. The NFL is a game where you have to pace yourself. Some people start fast and finish slow, some people start slow and finish fast.
ON THE MARK
Our fast starter this year has been Mark Clayton, a guy who came into the team only a few days before the season.
He's helped our offense because he allows the young receivers to see how to go about their workday, how to run routes and how to execute plays. He's going to be huge for Sam in his development as a go to guy and someone that helps stretch the field and bring some credibility to our passing game.
His ability to come in and pick up the offense shows you how smart he is and that he knows how to be a true professional. Those are two things that go a long way because when these young guys want to makes excuses for certain things, you can point and say ‘This is how things should be done. Watch Mark.'
A lot of times, people either shy away from their mistakes and won't acknowledge their faults, or they allow them to put them in a bad mood and want to go into hiding. I think the easiest way to get past mistakes or let downs is to acknowledge it, accept it and try to correct the wrong. But going into hiding, I don't believe, is the answer.
LOCKER ROOM CULTURE
As a group, we're bonding into a more cohesive unit and that starts in the locker room.
We have a lot of young guys so our locker room has the feel of a fraternity. We all joke on each other, playing practical jokes and pranks on one another. But we're also very protective of each other as well. We always try to keep it light in the locker room. Although we play a game that demands a lot out of us with high expectations week in and week out, when we're all in the locker room, we keep it fun and light.
Some guys play music out loud, but there are multiple different loud iPod stations going at a time. It's not like it used to be, where one guy controls the music.
I like a wide-range of music, so it doesn't bother me. I just love music. I love artists and I love to hear how different artists express themselves. I listen to pretty much all genres. Hip-hop, rap and R&B are my favorites and Jay-Z and Kanye West are my two favorite artists. But I also listen to alternative music, like Incubus and Kings of Leon are two of my favorite bands. And I even throw a little Frank Sinatra because it reminds me of the Wynn Hotel in my hometown of Las Vegas.
There are two CD's that I've got going nonstop right now. The first one is Nas and Damian Marley's "Distant Relatives" and I'm also into Trey Songz' new album "Passion, Pain & Pleasure." Those are the two that I'm playing a lot lately.
MY SUPPORT SYSTEM
I think I've mentioned in my tweets before that my family is a big part of what has formed my success as a player and a person.
They come to all my games and having my parents and my family at the games is a huge boost for me. When things are not going right and when you're going through losing seasons and not performing the way you would like, it's always good to have that family to lean on. You sometimes need someone to be there for you and lend an ear to listen or to be supportive. Everyone needs a support group behind them to get them through the bad times.
My family is a big part of what has formed my success as a player and a person.
I think having them around has helped me to gain the confidence that I have. They've nurtured the talent out of me. That support has helped me to the point where now I know, in times of disappointment or times that are rough and hard, how to deal with that. It seems like I can hear their advice in my head before I even ask them for it.
They are all of my motivation. We're a family that leans heavily on faith and we believe that things are always going to turn around. It's about having a strong work ethic and a strong faith base.
THE ‘REAL' ME
I don't get much downtime during the season, but you might be surprised that when I do, one of my favorite shows to watch on TV is "The Real Housewives."
I haven't watched this current season but what has me hooked on the show, just in general, is that I'm interested to see how different people handle success and notoriety. Everybody handles it differently and it's just interesting, being able to look behind the curtain of other people's lives. That's what draws my interest.
It's like a psychological study. You know the way you live your life and you just want to see if other people live their lives the same way. It's psychology. Just being able to study other people.
I'd have to say my favorite groups so far have been the housewives of Orange County and New Jersey. Just because, you have the laid back feel of Orange County and the way people live their lives there. Then there's New Jersey where they're more up in your face, more on edge.
Out of all the housewives my favorite though is NeNe from the Real Housewives of Atlanta because of the way she conducts herself. She's very entertaining on the television. But I won't dismiss any of the wives because I might have to work with one of them one day. Who knows?
While I'm focused on the task at hand with the Rams, I keep up with current events and the headliners on other teams every week. I think for the most part I'm pretty abreast of what's going on around the league.
I think you should do that, to know what's going on in the NFL and make sure you're keeping up with what your opponents are doing.
I've personally played against Michael Vick before a couple of times...He is hands down one of the most impressive football players I've had the chance to watch in person.
Of course, the big news right now is what's going on in Philadelphia. I don't personally know Michael Vick, but I'm happy for him. It shows that sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven. I think now, in his resurgence, he will appreciate being a starter again in the National Football League. I think it will mean more to him than it ever has.
I've personally played against Michael Vick before a couple of times when he was in Atlanta and to me he is hands down one of the most impressive football players I've had the chance to watch in person. He actually has a direct impact on the outcome of a game.
Right now I think the NFC is a dangerous conference. You have the defending Super Bowl champions in our conference and having a guy like Michael Vick leading Philadelphia, that just makes the road to the Super Bowl that much more challenging. There's a lot of offensive potency in our conference.
But one thing I do know is, it's early. It's always bunched up like this at the beginning of the season. The true tell of when teams start to separate themselves is in November and December. That's what I look to. I don't look at the first month or first six weeks of football. It has little to do with the outcome of the season.
YOUR BURNING QUESTIONS
While I have a lot of stuff on my mind, I also wanted to hear what you guys wanted to know from me or about me. So we took some questions on Twitter and Facebook from you the fans.
From Ben Holcomb, Dallas, Texas, b_holcomb on Twitter:
Q: What are your thoughts and predictions on the Oregon State vs. Boise State game this weekend?
A: It's going to be a pretty tough game. I do believe it's going to live up to the hype and be a very entertaining game. The one thing that concerns me is that we have to go to Boise. They're tough to beat anywhere, but especially to have to beat them at home.
When I was at Oregon State, we never played at Boise, but the two toughest places I played were Oregon, of course, and also Fresno State. Fresno State had David Carr there at the time, and they were a team that was making waves in college football. Their fans are kind of reminiscent of rowdy Raiders fans a little bit.
If we're going to win the game on Saturday, we're going to need the Rodgers brothers to be the catalysts of our offense both rushing and receiving the ball. If we're going to win that game, it's going to be on the shoulders of the Rodgers brothers.
But I do see Oregon State coming out on top, victorious, in a tight game.
From I_am_Orange on Twitter:
Q: What motivated you to give your recent generous donation to Oregon State?
A: My donation was a way for me to give back to the university that helped me to get where I am now. Secondly, I think the kids that are there now deserve it. They deserve nice facilities and you want them to have the same treatment as any other school in the nation has. The only way we're going to get to that is the older alums giving back and helping those kids have an even playing field?
From Jeff Gerbig, Evansville, Indiana, Gerbalaya on Twitter:
Q: Do you like to grill? Do you prefer charcoal or gas?
A: Yeah I do actually. I use charcoal because I feel the food just tastes better when you're grilling with charcoal. I like to grill steak, chicken, I'll even put some hot links on there. I grill asparagus a lot. I love grilling steaks.
From Taro Shimizu on Facebook:
Q: Who is the funniest or goofiest player on the Rams?
A: Mardy Gilyard, by far. He is the funniest and goofiest teammate of mine. He's nonstop. He doesn't stop talking from the minute he walks in the building to the minute he leaves. He can make a joke out of anything.
From CJ Fink on Facebook:
Q: If you could play any other position, what would you play and why?
A: Left tackle. If you're an all-pro left tackle you usually have a long career and you're the main insurance to the quarterback.
From Jamison Murphy on Facebook:
Q: What running back was your favorite and what move that had u like WoW?
A: I never looked up to just one running back, but I have a lot of running backs that I watched. I figured if you were in the NFL, you were doing something I wanted to do so I paid attention to you. Some of the guys that stood out to me were Walter Payton, of course, Marcus Allen, Barry Sanders, Bo Jackson, Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James and Ricky Williams.
The player that really made my jaw drop was Ricky Williams. Even when he was at Texas, the way that he would run the ball with such force and power, it was impressive to me. He has a rare combination of speed and power.
From John K. Marshall on Facebook:
Q: Who's the hardest hitting LB you've ever faced?
A: I haven't met him yet.
From Shane Cargill on Facebook:
Q: Given your punishing running style, what's your thoughts on the NFL and the NFLPA's focus on concussion injuries?
A: I think it's a good thing. As football players we are taught and we are programmed to be fearless warriors. But sometimes we can make harmful decisions because of the nature of the sport. We probably do need a doctor or physician to step in and protect us from ourselves.
From Tim_Marshall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Twitter:
Q: What's the most important goal that you've set out for your NFL career?
A: To lead this team to a Super Bowl and to win one.