The Rookie WallNovember 11th, 2013
Some rookies wave off any notion that a rookie wall affects them, even though it obviously has.
For those unaware, a rookie wall represents the concept that halfway through an NFL season a player crosses a boundary that would otherwise have signaled a full season of college football. Last week was that week for Bucs rookies.
To help the rookies manage the rookie wall, Bucs commander Greg Schiano had a sitdown with all youngsters this week, telling them what they can expect from their bodies.
“I just met with them one day earlier this week,” Schiano said. “We had the rookie meeting and I sat them down, I said ‘Okay your college season is over’ and they looked at me kind of puzzled. I said ‘Yeah, the four preseason games which you guys played a ton in and then the eight regular season games, that’s it, that’s your 12 game college season. Now what do we have left?’ They all smiled. It’s being aware first, this is uncharted territory for these guys. Then, what can I do? The benefit is you don’t have class to go to. You don’t have to take care of these other things. Get your rear end in bed, get your rest, study your playbook, do your prehab and your rehab, and then get in bed. The tough thing for rookies is all the other catchings of the NFL. Everybody wants to do something every night and that’s where we try to educate, educate, but at the end of the day it’s still an individual choice for all those rookies.”
Mark Barron was a perfect example of a rookie wall. Last year, as a rookie, he had a pretty decent first-half of the season. Once November rolled around, his play started to tail off.
For rookies, it has been pretty much been non-stop football since training camp of their final year of college football. Once the college bowl season ends, guys going into the draft begin working out for the combine. Then there’s the combine and the 6 a.m.-midnight interviews, tests, physicals, workouts, etc. It doesn’t stop there in Indianapolis. There are the pro days, the individual team workouts and then — BOOM! — they are right into rookie minicamps and before you know it, their first NFL training camp begins.
Fortunately for the Bucs, they are not depending on too many rookies each game. Akeem Spence and Johnthan Banks have started or played significantly in just about every game thus far. Sure, Mike James is a rookie but until the past couple of games, played sparingly.
The rookie wall, however, is real. And it hits rookies like a piano falling on their backs.