(Another installment of running back Jeremy Hill's rookie diary. He reflects on his first game, where he rushed for 19 yards on four carries on 10 snaps during the 23-16 victory in Baltimore.)
After a game like that against a tough divisional opponent where you get the win on the road where we had not won in a while, the last thing you're thinking about is who got touches and who got yards. You just want to get the win and get out of there alive.
Hue Jackson, our offensive coordinator, came up to me right after the game in the locker room and talked to me about it. He noticed there were a few times Giovani Bernard had some long runs and he wanted to get him out of there to get his wind back. He reassured me he knows I'm there and that he has a plan for me and I'm going to get more touches.
I know what my role is. Obviously I'd like to get more touches and help this team, but we got the win so it wasn't that big of a deal to me. I was just happy I won my first NFL game on the road. But he brought it up and running backs coach Kyle Caskey brought it up. You live and learn and I'm excited about this game coming up.
I know where Hue's coming from about being a rookie in an opening game on the road and not using me that much. I get it. He knows I'm not going to agree with that. The experiences I've had in college where freshmen come in and they have no idea what's going on, I can see it, but having pride as a player, I have to think I'm ready.
Every game is different. Every game presents different challenges. You never know. I had 10 plays. You obviously want to get a lot more than that, especially when we see some of these quarterbacks we're going against. To keep them off the field we're going to have to run the ball successfully and it's going to take Gio and me to do it. We only averaged 3.0 and that's not where we want to be.
But every team is different. Every game presents different challenges. Every game has a different flow. It's just the way this game went. The series I had, there were three-and-outs and that shortened it up. It's just a part of it.
Hue has never come to me and said before a game, 'We're going to pound it and you're going to get 20 carries.' Gio is so good at some things and they allow him to showcase his abilities and it's the same thing with me. There are certain plays designed for Gio and certain plays designed for me and it depends how the game is going.
I was there on the sidelines in the fourth quarter when A.J. Green talked about needing to make a big play and that he wanted the ball just before he scored the winning touchdown. We felt like we let down the defense in the second half. We didn't put any points on the board in the third quarter and let them get the momentum. We have to get drives going and keep them off the field. Obviously that's what we're going to have to do when we get into the schedule with some of these quarterbacks. We're going to have to do a better job of that.
I think every guy on this offense feels the way A.J. does. That if we get the opportunity, we all feel like we can make the plays if we get the ball in our hands. That's the beautiful thing about the NFL. Every guy feels that way. Whether they can do it or they can't do it, every guy has that confidence.
You can't compare an NFL crowd to a college crowd. There are more kids in college and it's just wilder. Playing in the SEC, you're playing in different venues in front of a lot more people with 100,000. But at the same time, from a mental standpoint in the NFL, you have a lot more going through your mind pre-snap. And on top of that on third down with all the crowd noise, it can be a little tricky.
The preseason kind of ruined the vibe for me. In college you go right into the first game. Wow, all of a sudden you're in front of 90,000. But in the NFL you get into a rhythm in the preseason. You get that feel. You already have to bring that intensity, especially in practice. So there was no drop-off in the first game. I wouldn't say it was a letdown, but it was just another day at the office.
But playing against a team you always watched on TV, watched them in the Super Bowl, game-planning against them and then seeing them out on the field and playing against them, that's neat. I think for every rookie, that's very cool. That's something you get used to week in and week out. Especially this season when we're going to be playing against all the teams we're playing and going against Brees, Brady, Manning, Ryan, Roethlisberger, all those quarterbacks, and you get to see all those guys. It's definitely going to be cool for a rookie.