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Tommy Collins Training Camp Diary - Part V


Last weekend rookie fullback Tommy Collins was playing in just his second preseason game with the Green Bay Packers.

All of a sudden, he's days away from what could be his last.

August 26, NFL rosters will be reduced down to 65 players. Five days later, only 53 will remain.

In his previous training camp diary, Collins described the experience of his first NFL preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. In this edition he reviews last weekend's game against the Cleveland Browns, discusses how he made it through the August 14 blackout and explains his emotions as the first round of roster cuts draws near.

Tommy Collins: I was in my hotel room with Jerry Wisne when the blackout hit in Cleveland.

All of a sudden the TV and the clock cut out and we kind of looked at each other and said, "What's going on here?" We figured we must have a power outage in the hotel, but a few minutes later I looked outside and none of the traffic lights were on, so I told Jerry that I thought the entire block was out.

Then we found out from the hotel staff that the whole city was in a blackout. Just after that, I got a text message from my fiancé in northern New Jersey that says, "Are you guys having blackouts, too?"

When I saw that I thought, 'Oh my god, we're getting attacked!' Obviously I couldn't turn on the TV to see what was happening, but I called my fiancé and she was able to tell me what people were speculating about the power outages.

After that first bit of nervousness, everyone calmed down and we just found a way to pass the time.

I spent most of the night in the lobby playing cards and hanging out. Without the air conditioning it was pretty hot, but that was better than just sitting in my room.

Still, it was probably the most boring time I've had in camp. All of a sudden you realize how dependant we are on electricity. In a moment like that you almost feel as if the world would cease to exist without it.

But after a long night, we were able to pull it together and have a good game the next day.

I think I played pretty well against Cleveland. My blocking definitely has improved, and I'm kind of coming into my own a little bit at the fullback position.

I think the rookies in general are getting more comfortable with being out on the field. You know, it's one thing to do it in practice, but it's something else to do it in a game, especially a nationally-televised game on CBS.

I played half of the third quarter and all of the fourth, and when I went out there I can't tell you how fired up I was. Everyone I knew was watching the game and it gives you a little more of an edge.

We've worked so hard that it's a reward to know that all eyes are on you when you take the field. You go into that game knowing that if you get punk'd everyone at home is going to see it, so you'd better play well.

Coach (Sylvester) Croom said that I started the game a little tentative. I don't want to say it was rookie jitters, but as I got more into the game it started getting better. I was blocking well and I was killing people out there.

Of course the thing I need to do is play like that right away when I first get in the game. That was my biggest mistake. Otherwise, I did pretty well.

It's exciting to see improvement week in and week out. I hope it stays like that. Ideally it does, but for that to happen I just need to keep playing hard.

This week I need to go out there and play to my potential from the get-go. Hopefully I catch a few passes along the way, because I feel like that's my forte, and I haven't had a chance to catch a ball in a game yet.

Catching passes is my thing. I was a tight end in college, so my hands are my asset, but I haven't been able to prove that in a game.

Roster cuts are getting closer and I think all of us in the Green Mile (the Packers' auxiliary locker area) are pretty aware of it. I don't think many people are really worried, because everyone feels confident that they can play in the NFL, it's just a question of who here can play for the Packers?

That's different than just playing in the NFL, because it's an exclusive group of guys that play for this team. So guys are going to give it their best to stay here.

As Coach (Mike) Sherman has said, the opportunities are going fast. We only have a couple practices next week and at the most two more preseason games -- maybe just one -- to prove what we've got.

If you're going to do something, now's the time. That's not just for me, or even for just the rookies, that's for everybody. Because there are no guaranteed jobs in this business. You can't even say that every guy in the main locker room is guaranteed a job here. That's just how it is. So we need to perform now.

Of course it does start going through your mind, wondering where you stand in terms of the 53-man roster, but I think I've gotten better about not thinking about it. I thought about stuff like that a lot more when I first came to camp than I do now.

Now I've decided I'm just going to go out and play. Who knows how things will fall? That's just up to the people upstairs, so I can't really think about it. I just have to go out there every day and not look back. I have to plan on being here and keep my eyes on the prize.

The fullback position is relatively new to me and I think the coaches know that I have a lot of potential.

I'm really just starting out, and the only way to go is up. I hope they feel the same way, and I think they do. But what wins jobs is going out there and proving it every play, not just one out of two, or one out of three.

Right now the only thing that I can think about is playing on Lambeau Field. It was nice to play on the road, but this is a whole different thing.

I've never played at Lambeau. We had a scrimmage with no one in the place and even that was amazing, so I can't imagine what it's going to be like when it's filled up Saturday night.

It's going to be an unreal experience!

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