*Amsterdam Admirals wide receiver Chad Lucas will write a diary for Packers.com chronicling his NFL Europe experience from training camp to the end of the season. This week, Chad writes about his first week in Europe, including cuisine, practice and the opening home contest against the Berlin Thunder. *
We left for Europe from Florida last Tuesday and arrived here late Wednesday night. Out hotel is really nice and I finally have my own room. When we first got here we had a little extra time to walk around Utrecht, the city we live in, which is about 45 minutes outside of Amsterdam. In the past, the players all lived in Amsterdam, but they had some guys who were a little less focused than they should be, so that's why we live outside the city. But the train ride is only 30 minutes to Amsterdam, so it's not that bad. We got some tickets to the wax museum in Amsterdam, so I'm going to try and get down there to see that. Hopefully on one of my off days I can go to Paris, which is no longer than a two-hour train ride away.
The food here is better than I thought. It's a little different than what I'm used to, because they cook with different spices. They had some kind of meat - I'm not sure what it was - that wasn't very good. The lasagna was good, the bacon and eggs pretty much tastes the same. The milk in my cereal tastes a little different, but everything else was good.
A typical day starts with breakfast at 7:30. We have meetings at 8:00. The bus leaves at 10:00. If you oversleep, you have to catch a cab to the practice site. It's only happened to one guy, so far. We practice on three different soccer fields that are marked off like football fields. The locker room is not big, but it gets the job done. The weight room is not that big either, so we lift in groups.
The practices are structured similar to NFL practices, but not as long because you don't have as many bodies. It's structured the same in terms of having it broken up in offensive, defensive and special teams periods. We only have 40-some players, so everyone gets a chance to play. In practice, everyone has to play on the scout team at some point because you don't have extra guys to do it. You only have two practice squad players so everyone has to go, which makes you better because you are taking so many reps. I'm taking the most repetitions I've took since high school. You don't ever leave the field; once you start practice, you're busy until the end
Our first game was up and down. The fans here are great. Our first game had the best attendance an Admirals' game has had, even though it was cold (the wind chill was 24 degrees Fahrenheit at kick off). They have stayed loyal since this steam won the World Bowl last year. Over here the fans cheer, but have a lot more whistles. If you weren't paying attention to the game, you might think it was a ref. In the States, you don't have people bringing whistles in, so that was distracting at first.
We didn't win, so the fact that a lot of people came out made the game bittersweet. I think that was just first-game jitters. We should come together and be better this week. We were down 20-0 and showed a lot of character coming back, but lost 33-29. If we had another minute on the clock, I think we would have had a good chance to win it. As for the cold, being in Green Bay actually helped me deal with it. It was cold, but I was able to manage fine.
Personally, after watching the film, I thought I played pretty well. I didn't get a chance to touch the ball too many times, but that's part of the game. Other than I didn't have any missed assignments and hopefully I'll get more opportunities to touch the ball and make a difference. Our quarterback is Gibran Hamdan, assigned from the Seattle Seahawks. This is actually his third year over here, so he kind of knows the ropes and what to expect and has helped us along. All of us are looking forward to this week to improve as a team. Being the defending champion, the stakes are high for us, so the sooner we come together as one, the sooner we can make this thing happen.