Bryan Randall Rookie Diary #9: A Month of Practices Nears Its End

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Editor’s Note: Bryan Randall has been in Atlanta since
mid-May participating in about four weeks of OTAs (Organized Team Activities),
the practices which take place between mini-camp and the opening of fall
training camp. Here’s the latest from Bryan in Georgia.

After coming back from the mini-camp, when we got back up
here the practices and everything have pretty much been the same. We’re
practicing three times a week. Usually it’s Monday, Wednesday and Thursday
practices starting out at 7:30 in the morning. Special teams meet at 7:30 in the
morning, then offense and defense will go at 8:00 to probably about 10:00. Then
we have a special teams practice before the regular practice around 10:30, then
everybody on the whole team will get together and we practice around 11:00.

about 12:30 everyday, the rookies have meetings with their coaches. And then the
rookies would, depending on the day, either lift or run at 2:15 every day. Our
running and lifting was every day, not just three days a week. Even the days we
weren’t practicing, we were still coming in to meetings. We get the weekends
off, so that’s a good thing.

On special teams, basically I’m just kind of feeling my
way through it. I’m not necessarily on first or second string on any of the
special teams, but right now I have been involved in all the special teams
meetings. Kickoff, kickoff return, punt, punt return. I’ve never been on
special teams before, so it’s something new to me.

Our practice facility is located in Flowery Branch, down
by Buford, a couple of miles from Suwannee near Gwinnett County. They’ve got
us staying near Lake Lanier, actually in the same area that we stayed for the
mini-camp, except that now we are staying in a hotel instead of the cabins. The
cabins were much nicer than the hotel (laughs). At the cabin we had a room to
ourselves, and then there was a living area, a kitchen and a big refrigerator.
Now at the hotel, it’s two to a room and not nearly as big.

Last time, during mini-camp, I was rooming with Roddy
White. This time I’m with DeAndre Cobb, the running back from Michigan State.
They put all the rookies in the same hotel, and all the veterans just stay where
they live. We won’t actually have to stay in the same quarters until training
camp. It’s great. He’s real easy going and easy to get along with, so we
haven’t had any problems.

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The style of strength and conditioning is kind of
different. Right now, since all the rookies are lifting together, the routine is
kind of repeated just about every other day that we lift. We’re pretty much
doing the same thing with just minor changes. He’s already told us that as
time goes on, things will be a little different. He’s just got to get a feel
for the players and what they can do, so they can kind of individualize our

They just want to get our bodies in the best shape
possible to play at our peak performance. When we came in they got our body
weight, measured our body fat percentage and all that. It’s real important
that we work to get to the peak of our bodies to make sure that we are able to
perform at our best from a physical standpoint.

When I got here, I weighed about 228 or 230. I felt like I
wanted to get to about 220. I don’t know why, but for some reason it has been
hard to lose weight while lifting. Even with the practices and everything, it’s
hard to lose the extra pounds. I’m not sure if my body fat has changed over
time, but I feel like my body is changing. It’s just the weight is still
there. I’ve just found that I haven’t been able to get it where I want it
to, but it could be for a different reason.

At Tech, I’d start the season around 225. During the
season it would fluctuate to around 221, 223, somewhere around there.

I feel a lot more comfortable than I did with the
position. Even when I came back from the mini-camp I felt more comfortable, just
from looking at the plays and digesting them, and letting things slow down. I
feel that now I’m capable of getting out there, calling the play and running
the play and executing the play, if given the opportunity. From the time leaving
mini-camp to the four weeks that we’ve done now, I feel like I’m coming
along each week.

The physical things are there. The mental side is what has
to come along, and I feel that slowly but surely I’ve been able to pick up
some things, some little things, that have helped.

My arm is live. The thing is, I really don’t get that
many reps in practice. It might be a day where I go out there, throw at the
beginning of practice and warm up, and then never get a rep through the whole
practice. I’m mental repped to death. You’ll learn that in this league, the
number one quarterback is going to take most of the reps, second string is going
to get a couple, the third string is going to get very few. Even the third
string quarterback, he may only get two reps in one period, maybe one in the
next period and maybe two in another period. And if he’s getting that many,
then the fourth stringer just has to get one whenever he can fit in.

I’ve worked in a couple of reps here and there, but
basically they’ve been limited. I guess they’ve been slowly but surely
trying to work me in, giving me a couple of more reps here and there. But the
way I feel right now, is that if I were able to get more reps, then I am
definitely capable of being successful.

I guess they are evaluating me during the few reps that I
get, when I’m throwing routes to the receivers, doing one-on-one drills with
the receivers. I mean I’m really not sure. I guess they’ve got their own
feel and they’re just judging different things, but it’s really hard to

I haven’t really gotten any feedback from the coaches. It’s
been a couple of times where they say you’ve got to get all the mental reps
that you can, and be able to come along mentally, because if there’s ever a
time where I have to play in a game then I’m going to have to know what to do.
That’s one thing they’ve told me.

I’ve had to sit back and ask a lot of questions. Through
the whole practice I just sit back there with the quarterbacks coach, and if
there’s something I don’t understand then I’m asking him, Ty [Detmer],
Matt [Schaub] or Mike [Vick] what’s going on and why is this happening. But I’m
always out there asking questions and they’re always willing to help.

If you go out there and watch Ty, he can still get it
done. He’s so smart and he knows where to go with the ball. His physical tools
are kind of wearing down and he’s smart enough to stay on top of things, but
there’s no question that he has the most knowledge of the offense. No question
about that. He has the knowledge of a coach in the offense.

When it comes down to it, believe it or not, the west
coast offense and our offense at Tech, I’m not going to sit here and say there
are a lot of similarities, but the plays are similar in a lot of ways. We have a
lot of plays at Tech and a lot of routes at Tech that are just the same that
they are here, but it’s just different terminology. I guess that’s why the
adjustment wasn’t necessarily that hard, it’s just a matter or terminology.
The plays aren’t that complicated. There is a little variation here and there,
but it’s not that different from being at Tech for four years.

I actually got to hang with DeAngelo [Hall] one night. He
took me, Roddy and one of Roddy’s friends out to dinner. We went to a real
nice restaurant, one of his favorites, and I can see why. I don’t know if I
could afford the bill to be going there (laughs). It was a little too nice for
me to be going there. But it was nice.

DeAngelo is a professional about it. It seems like to me
that he’s grown up a lot and matured a lot since he’s been in Atlanta.

But as far as hanging out with other players, rookies
really don’t get to do that because we’ve got to do so much stuff, and a lot
of the guys just go home, relax and get away from it. I’ve actually been
hanging out with T.J. Duckett, the running back from Michigan State. He and my
roommate went to school together. When I didn’t have my car up here, he came
to pick us up and we hung out with him a couple of times.

For most of the veterans, this last few weeks of practices
ended today. We’re going to have two OTAs [Organized Team Activities] next
week for rookies and selected veterans. After next week, it will be over for all
the veterans. The rookies have to stay here until the middle of July, I think
the 15th, working out, running and lifting. I talked to a couple of other
players, and they said that some other teams don’t do that. After OTAs are
over, everybody leaves, rookies included.

Training camp opens July 25th. So we get to go home on
July 15th, and then we have to report back on July 25th.

I don’t necessarily miss Blacksburg. I guess it’s
getting into something new, you know, right now it’s just all exciting to me.
I’m having fun down here. I’m ready to get things going. I look forward to
every day, going out there and doing something.

So far, it’s been good. I feel like I’ve been
preparing myself for this for awhile now, and I haven’t really been shocked by
anything that has been going on. It’s really a business, you can definitely
say that. But at the same time, it’s enjoyable. You’re doing something that
you love to do, and there are some perks. At times there are going to be some
things that you don’t want to do, but at the same time I don’t have to worry
about school work, I’m totally concentrated on something that I love doing,
and getting paid for it at the same time.

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