- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2003

We have some of the best fans in the Washington area, and I want to let them in a little bit on what NFL life is like — what it’s like to be a football player, what it’s like to be in the spotlight, what some of the things we do in the locker room that nobody knows about are and what some of the things that go on between the guys are.

I’m excited about training camp. You go through a cycle during the year. When you’re done with 20 weeks of the season, you have had about as much as you can take. And then you get away for a month or two, and then you start working out, and that’s great for about a month.

But we’re not weightlifters. We’re not Olympic athletes. We’re football players. So there comes a point when working out becomes a drag. When training camp finally starts, you can strap the pads on, and it’s a lot of fun. You get to see all the guys you haven’t seen in awhile, and you get to know each other again.

The hardest thing is being away from your family — even when training camp is here at Redskin Park. It’s better than in Carlisle because you can sneak away for lunch with your wife and some guys can see their kids once in awhile. But for the most part, at night you don’t get to go home. You’re locked up. You’re not in your own bed. You’re not getting a good night’s sleep. And you’re trying to perform at a high level.

The food has been terrific. We can’t complain about that. We’ve got meat and potatoes at every meal. And then there’s obviously other things, too, for the healthy guys. But the linemen want the meat and potatoes. I eat what I like, and someday when the doctor tells me I need to be a little smarter, then I will. But until then, it’s chicken wings for me.

Camp is like college. My closest friends are all college teammates. And that’s because we lived together for 365 days a year for five years. The only other person who has lived with me for that long is my wife. So they know things about you that nobody else ever will know. Then when you come to the NFL, when the clock strikes five, you go home to your family. But for this little bit of training camp, you guys are together a lot, and you learn about each other.

Patrick Ramsey has done a tremendous job. Early on in camp, you would see him have a news conference every day. I don’t think a lot of people understand the pressure that puts on someone. Patrick’s the perfect guy for the spot because he doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on in the paper. He’s not reading the headlines. And he’s done all the little things to be successful. Now he’s got to go out and be successful.

Patrick’s my best friend on the team. It’s not even close. We joined up last year, and we’ve had a great time doing things off the field like hunting and fishing. And that helps our team, I think, when you’ve a lineman who can be that close to the quarterback.

For me personally, not that I’ve ever not blocked hard because I didn’t like the quarterback, but I’ve got added incentive because I’m going to be in the woods with Patrick and he’s going to have a rifle. I don’t want him to get an itchy trigger finger because I let Michael Strahan go through and pop him in the bean.

You know, I don’t think people realize that Patrick is such a shy person. When we’re here, he does everything people ask him to do, but he’s a very private person. He enjoys time alone with his wife. And in terms of being a quarterback, he’s not a guy who craves the spotlight. He wants to be a part of a team that’s successful, not a part of Patrick Ramsey the success story.

I think, even last year when people would interview him and say, “Hey, you had a great game against Tennessee,” he would say, “Oh, my linemen gave me time to throw the ball.” Yeah, right. We gave him time to throw about half the time. The rest of the time he was getting hit as he threw it. He made those plays.

Here in camp, I’ve seen a lot of aggression, both offensively and defensively. Guys want to be part of a tough team. I think we’ve done anything the coaches have asked. We’ve been focused. And I think we’ve done a lot on the mental side. Especially as linemen. We call it “going out in skirts.” You can’t hit people. It’s frustrating. But you learn your assignments more.

That should translate to the season. When we’ve got fourth-and-1 and we’re up by two points and we need a first down to close it off, we’re not going to jump offsides and make it fourth-and-6. We’re not going to sweep to the right and hear a holding call on 76.

That’s it until next week. If there’s any questions from the readers, whether it’s something we do off the field, something in the locker room, technical things that happen on the field, anything, feel free to ask. E-mail me at: [email protected]

Staff writer Jody Foldesy collaborates with Jon Jansen on this column. It appears every Wednesday.

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