8-15-02, 4:15 p.m.
(This is the second installment of rookie strong safety Marquand Manuel's training camp diary. Manuel was selected in the sixth round out of Florida, the 19th safety taken in last April's NFL Draft.)
GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ I've got the list of the 18 safeties taken ahead of me hanging here in my locker at training camp. I don't have to look at it. I've got it memorized. I watched Coy Wire play Friday night for the Bills and I know he was No. 10. And if he's No. 10, that means Chris Hope is No. 9 from Florida State.
Talking isn't my game. My slogan is, "Remember me." Remember me. I'm that guy. Ten years from now, you remember me. I'm the guy you overlooked. Remember me. That's all.
I think I should have been the first safety. You give me hype coming out of college. It's not like I didn't have the numbers. Everybody knew where I was.
LT (Bengals rookie free safety Lamont Thompson) knows they got me. I know he was No. 3. He's seen me play. He knows what time it is. It's cool. We're going to play together for a long time.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh and I have already talked about that four or five times. He was drafted lower than he should have been (in the seventh round last year) and look at him now, and we've talked about how a lot of it is hype.
I grade myself. I'll sit down by myself and watch tape. I think I grade myself harder than the coaches. I keep my grades in with our tips and reminders part of our playbooks.
I gave myself an 87 for the first game in Buffalo. I played about 12, 13 plays in the second half and a lot on special teams all during the game. The coaches
haven't given us their grades yet. They said they would do it later. The first game is for getting your feet wet and seeing where the season is going.
I give myself pluses and minuses. I had my first tackle on a draw play where I brought the guy to the ground. We were in straight cover 2, a deep zone, and I was reading the receiver and came back to make the play. I don't know the running back's name. It felt good to make a tackle again because I really didn't have one in the scrimmage.
That play was a plus, and I had a couple of minuses, where I could have been wider or read another key, and there were times our safeties coach, Darren Perry, said I could have been quicker reading and reacting. I don't give myself a grade if it's a play where I was trying to get there, but I'm not in the play.
Overall, I think I did all right. I did have fun and that's what it comes to. That's why I gave myself an 87. I had fun, I did all I could do, I did learning on the run, and that's all I can ask.
Before the game, besides thinking about assignments and alignments, I was just thinking about playing hard. Even though its preseason, I was thinking about how I've got nothing to lose and not to hold anything back.
During pre-game warmups, I wore the T-Shirt I wore my last two years in college. On the front it's got the initials and nicknames of my brothers and sisters, so it's crowded because I've got 17. On the back is for my uncle and good friend who died.
It's a way of representing them. So they know I'm not just playing for myself and my teammates, but that I'm also playing for them. It worked out great. It's a black T-Shirt and that's what we wear here.
I was on the opening kickoff, and although special teams coach Al Roberts said it wasn't a double team, I kind of got blindsided. I tried to make it to the pile and I was on the guy blocking me, and the other guy finished me off. That taught me to keep my head on a swivel and to learn to use the blockers against themselves. Push one into the other. Learn on the run.
I hustled. My best friend saw the game in Tampa in a sports bar and said he could find me hustling on special teams. I did bust the wedge once on a kickoff. I outran the front wall and helped sweep out the tackle to Lamont and Kevin Kaesviharn. Other than that, it was pretty average. I was just trying to hustle.
Coming from Florida, there wasn't too much difference in speed, and me being a fast guy, the speed of the game wasn't that much faster.
People have a misconception about that. They really don't mean the game being faster, but what they mean is the mental aspect is faster. You have to make sure you're on top of it so you can think and anticipate plays.
Here's an example from a practice earlier this week in the red zone, after the Buffalo game. Even though I dropped an interception in the end zone, it's the kind of play that two weeks ago I might not have even been in the area.
I didn't even see Akili Smith's hand when he threw it. He drilled it and I dropped it when I tried to bring it in. I have to make that play. The way I see it, it's not that hard to play a perfect game.
But even though I dropped it, I think it shows I'm coming along. I just got there fast. It was just one of those where you just GOT THERE. You know, where you really couldn't believe you got there, but you got there? I think that means I'm seeing more and getting more comfortable.
We had trips, with multi receivers on one side, and I was on that side. They had a backside split and they ran a double slant. They ran the first slant, and I was in that window, and then I just went to the next slant and jumped the second slant.
I saw tape that morning and there was nobody but the corner and the receiver back there, so I thought he was going to run an out. But you're always thinking on a double slant, one slant has to be coming back the other way, so you just make the play. Next time, I've got to finish it off for the interception.
The good thing about it was I GOT THERE without thinking about it.