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Fire on ice

7-24-01, 3:00 p.m.

This is the first installment of defensive captain Takeo Spikes' twice-a-week diary for during training camp.

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ I've got this book by Bill Russell now. It's called "Eleven Lessons on Leadership," and I'm reading it every night before I go to sleep.

Like I said the other day, you can lead the horse to the trough but you can't make him drink. This year, I'm going to make him drink. It's a great book. I'm just getting into it now.

During the May camp, I watched tape of last year's division games and wrote down all my mistakes. When I got down here, I taped it up in my locker because that's my whole objective.

I was a little nervous before I stepped on the field for the first time. I missed the first practice (Saturday) because I was with my father (Jim Spikes is fighting cancer) back home in Sandersville, Ga., and everytime I stop thinking about football for a second, I think about what's going on back home.

I think I was a little nervous because of what I'd been through, but the jitters

left during practice.

I called him after that first practice to tell him I was all right and he never says much except, "Just go ahead and do your thing. I'm back here holding it down." When the season starts, I'll probably do what I did with Brian (Simmons) last year and write his initials on the tape around my arms and wrist.

Coach (Dick) LeBeau is running a tougher camp. The control and tempo is much faster. They were telling me we probably did as much as we did with Bruce Coslet with even more plays and still got off the field sooner even after conditioning.

The defensive meetings are a little different because Mark Duffner is also the defensive coordinator instead of just our linebackers coach. He's not saying as much this year and the reason why is he has so many other things to worry about. Plus, most of the linebackers are in their fourth year and he doesn't have to say too much to us.

One time in the film on a pass, Duff says to me, "You can take that ball right there, pick it off, and run all the way back to Washington County." That's where I'm from. He keeps it exciting.

In training camp, I like to stay on the field after practice to work on something I messed up so I feel comfortable. (On Monday), it was my zone drop. Two other linebackers, Steve Foley and Adrian Ross, stayed out there to help me.

In the practice, they completed a pass to the back in the flat and it's just all about getting your head around on a swivel where you can see the quarterback and the receiver. I got caught looking at the receiver and the ball was caught.

I dread the long days. As you get older, your body can't take the long wear and tear. I remember stepping on this field for the first time when I was 21. Now I'm 24 and it's totally different.

I used to go out there and didn't have to damn stretch and I'd go the first three days without even getting any ice. Now I do that stuff before and after practice

Now, I feel like I've got to have ice on it just to calm me down before it even gets started up. I always used to see guys when I first got in like that and I'd say, "They're sorry. They're hurt."

Now I understand. They're little nagging things. But if you don't get on it, it's going to turn into something worse.

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