Morley Adjusting To Life And Football In Green Bay

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Steve Morley certainly looks the part of an NFL football player. He stands 6-7 and weighs 332 pounds -- perfect measurements for an offensive lineman -- but that only tells half the story.

Morley has the physical aspects covered, but that doesn't mean he is a finished product or ready to take the league by storm. In fact, the 22-year old from Nova Scotia is just trying to get acclimated to the NFL game and what it takes to play football in the United States.

"Football wise, the adjustment to the Packers has been huge," Morley said. "It's like night and day between the NFL and Canada and it's a big change from what I'm used to."

Morley admits that playing football wasn't his first love growing up.

"Like everybody in Canada, I was putting hockey first," Morley said. "My brother starting playing high school football and I just followed him. He was successful and I played in part because he did.

"But eventually, I started to love the NFL and the Canadian Football League (CFL). I followed the Dallas Cowboys pretty closely and I really liked them during their Super Bowl years."

No one can blame Morley for taking an early interest in hockey. After all, the sport is very popular in Canada, but it didn't take long for Morley to try his hand at football and find out how successful he could be.

At St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Morley starred in football throughout his college career. He was a four-time letterman from 1999-2002 and his team won titles in back to back seasons in 2001-2002. His strongest season came in his senior year when he was named the Atlantic Conference "Lineman of the Year."

Morley displayed enough skills to receive attention from NFL organizations including the Packers, but those teams would have to wait. Morley had problems with his visa which was making his route to the United States a hassle. He still wanted to play football, however, and that left him with one choice: the CFL.

Morley was drafted as the number one overall pick by the Calgary Stampeders in the 2003 CFL Draft. After starting nine of the 11 games he played in, he decided he wanted to chase his goal of playing in the NFL.

The Packers again pursued Morley and he signed as a free agent on February 3, 2004. Since then he has been focusing on becoming a legitimate NFL football player, but he admitted that it has been very difficult at times.

"Everything is more advanced here," Morley explained. "The players are bigger and weight training is more serious. Things are more time consuming and much more intense."

Although Morley said he has progressed well, that doesn't mean he is free of all the growing pains that an NFL rookie experiences.

"I think I've come a long way since I've been here, but I find that each day is different," Morley said. "Some days I'm doing really well out there and some days my head spins a bit more. Each day my body gets more tired and more banged up.

"Trying to stay focused is probably the hardest part of training camp, plus all the practices and meetings. The less sleep I'm getting and the fact that my body is all banged up makes it hard to stay focused. I'm not used to only five hours of sleep, but I can't complain though, it's the NFL."

By all indications Morley has exceeded expectations to this point. Since the beginning of training camp, he's replaced Mike Wahle in the starting lineup at guard. While Wahle remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with a knee contusion, Morley continues to get reps with the first-string offensive unit. He said he doesn't mind this arrangement one bit.

"It surprised me getting first team reps," Morley said. "But it doesn't matter to me, it's not like they are asking too much of me. I'll do anything out there they want me to do and I won't complain at all. I'll just go with the flow."

Morley said that although working with the first unit has tested his nerves, it's also been beneficial.

"It has helped me a lot working with the first team. It's a lot faster and you have to adjust to the calls quickly, but I think I'm doing well."

When asked if he ever regrets moving to a different country to play a more demanding game, Morley chooses his words carefully.

"I don't second guess the move," Morley explains. "On a bad day though, it's easy to get down on myself but the biggest thing is to keep my head up and stay focused. I find that's the best thing I can do. If I have a bad play, I have to let it go and move on to the next play and do better next time, otherwise I'll be in for a long trip."

Offensive line coach Larry Beightol can often be heard yelling instructions to Morley and the rest of his linemen during practice on Clarke Hinkle Field. From an outside point of view, it looks like Beightol is either trying to push his players the best he can or humiliate them, but Morley insists that his coach just wants to help the team improve.

"Coach Beightol is an in-your-face type coach," Morley said. "I actually like his style. I think that's what I need to make me a better player. I need someone that is always on me to do well. You aren't going to get better if someone is soft with you telling you to take it easy."

Beightol is pleased with his young pupil so far.

"Morley's doing a fine job," Beightol said. "Because of his age, he's really like a junior in college. He's going to be a heck of a football player for the Green Bay Packers, just not yet.

"Any time you throw a guy in there and he's a starter out there with Favre, you've got to execute. There's an awful lot going through his mind right now, but he's doing fine."

Morley acknowledged that the caliber of football was something he's had to make an adjustment to, but he's already acclimated to the city of Green Bay.

"For the most part, Green Bay is a lot like my hometown of Halifax," Morley explained. "There are a few differences though. Green Bay has cheaper taxes than Canada, so that's pretty nice and the meals are great," Morley said with a laugh.

Morley said the fans caught his attention from the start.

"It was a great feeling coming over to practice from the locker room for the first time," Morley said. "There are fans jumping all over you trying to get autographs and everything. It was really neat."

The adjustment has proven difficult at times, but after playing in Canada during high school, college and the CFL, Morley is glad he's finally a Green Bay Packer.

"I'm really honored to be here," Morley said. "I'm really excited because it's a dream come true."

The way he has handled himself so far, the Packers are glad to have Morley, too.

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