Green Bay Packers training camp continues at a relentless pace as signs of the coming season begin to appear on the horizon.
Monday the Packers will open their preseason schedule against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, which will be broadcast to a nationwide audience on ABC's Monday Night Football.
While the game means nothing to the Packers' 2003 win-loss record, it means everything to rookies like Tommy Collins, who have mere weeks to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
Last week, in his first Training Camp Diary entry, Collins described what it was like to practice at Clarke Hinkle Field in front of the Packers' loyal and enthusiastic fans.
In this installment, Collins describes what it's like to practice away from the public eye, as he did last Monday when the team held a closed practice inside Lambeau Field.
Tommy Collins: Flying into Green Bay you pass over Lambeau Field, so I got a chance to see the stadium from the very beginning. But you don't feel it until you walk inside.
Walking through the tunnel Monday night I got chills, and that was with the seats empty. You imagine what it would be like with the seats full and everybody screaming when it's minus-10 degrees outside, and you know that it will be unbelievable.
I had been inside the stadium before, but not with a helmet on, actually running around and playing football. So to get a little taste of that in practice was a great experience.
My primary position is fullback, but I also play tight end and I long snap. I feel like I'm a good utility guy and I think I can help the team in a lot of different areas. I'm more than willing to do that.
Right now all the focus is on fullback, and learning everything about that position. We'll probably work on tight end a little later on.
We've had a lot of injuries at running back so far during camp, but like Sly Croom says, we're going to keep going until the last man is standing and never back down. We have to keep rolling.
He said that to the running backs again just the other day, and he's right. That's just the reality of it. It doesn't matter if we have two guys or one guy, we're going to keep playing. We have to.
Heading toward our first preseason game, I'm actually feeling really comfortable.
I think all of us just need to keep our heads into it and come out to practice every day like it's the last day, like it's the last time we're ever going to put the pads on. I think that's the attitude we need to have to get where we want to be, starting with these preseason games and then going into the regular season.
I think the rookies have come a long way, and we're ready to show what we've got Monday night.
It's amazing to think that the preseason games are here already. It's all happened in a flash. You end your college football season and then you get ready for the draft and go through the whole training process. Then the draft happens and you're in mini-camp. Then here you are in training camp and now we're coming up on a Monday night game.
It's been three months or so, but it just seems like one thing after the next. I've never really had the chance to sit back and just take it all in. But that's just the life of a rookie, I guess.
Going into this first game, I'm trying to just focus in on what I have to do. But sitting back, I realize that my first NFL preseason game is going to be on Monday Night Football. John Madden is going to be there calling the game. And the whole country is going to be watching because it's the first game of the year.
When you look at it that way, it definitely gets you hyped up in a whole new way.
But the best thing to do is ignore the luster part of it and just remember what we're trying to accomplish. I'm excited to play that first game, but as much as possible we just need to keep it business as usual.