Rookie diary: LaMarr Woodley

Rookie diary: LaMarr Woodley
By LaMarr Woodley, Special to Yahoo! Sports
July 23, 2007

LaMarr Woodley
Editor's note: LaMarr Woodley, a Michigan defensive end selected in the NFL draft by the Steelers to play linebacker, will share his introduction to the league with Yahoo! Sports through periodic diary entries leading up to the 2007 regular season. This is his second installment. Read his first entry.

Well, my first NFL training camp is here and the weeks and months have gone fast since the minicamp in May.

It's been a really busy offseason, but I've been able to get my groin healthy and pick up a lot heading into my first year. We had almost a month of organized team activities, and that allowed me to get a lot of tips from the veterans as far as picking up schemes and practice habits. I did some autograph signings in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and I also spent a few days at the rookie symposium in Palm Beach, Fla., back in June. Then I went to Tempe, Ariz. at the beginning of July and worked out with (veteran teammate) Max Starks and some college guys for about a week to get my body ready for the season.

By far, I think the rookie symposium was the most eye-opening activity of the last few months. I roomed with teammate Ryan McBean and went through all kinds of classes and seminars. We got a chance to hear from Reggie Bush and Vince Young about what it's like to be rookies and the things we'll have to go through off the field. I liked being able to hear real stories from real people. It makes it a lot easier to relate to it when it's coming from a guy and he's telling you a specific thing that happened to him.

We also heard from Jamal Lewis, who told us about some of the struggles he went through a couple of seasons ago when he got mixed up in some things that were going on with the people around him (Lewis served four months in federal prison in 2005 after pleading guilty to using a cell phone in attempting to set up a cocaine deal in 2000). That one really stuck with me. It makes you think a lot about who is around you. The skits do, too. We saw a bunch of skits with different scenarios and making smart decisions in bad situations. Things like being out in a club and having to deal with people who want to start a fight, or what to do if you're driving and a friend tells you he brought drugs into the car.

We had a chance to meet with the commissioner, Roger Goodell, too, and then ask him any questions that were on our minds. I was impressed that some of the other players asked some of the things they did. Sometimes people are afraid to say what's on their minds, but people weren't. (Baltimore Ravens quarterback) Troy Smith asked the commissioner about why he is always talking about so many negative things about the NFL. I think that is something a lot of rookies had on their minds – all of the negatives we were hearing. I think we would all like to hear the positive things going on from the commissioner, too. There just has to be some balance in the media about the good and bad.

As for the rest of the summer, I went to (former teammate) Leon Hall's wedding in Michigan and got a chance to hang around with some of my college teammates. I actually fell down while I was dancing the Soul Train line. Someone had spilled something on the floor, and I didn't see it and I slipped and fell right over. It was a little embarrassing, but I got up. I guess you could say I got knocked down and I jumped right back up. That's how I do it.

I also bought a condo and some furniture this month, right around the time I signed my rookie contract. I'm really proud of being able to own my own place at such a young age. It's not a mansion or anything – just three bedrooms and a finished basement. But it caught my eye and I really like it. And it's all mine. That's when it really hit me. When I bought it, I said to myself "Wow, I have a new life."

As for football, my groin is healthy and I can feel my pace picking up in drills now that I'm starting to understand my responsibilities. I think I've lost about six pounds of fat, too, so I'm at about 266 now. I only have six more pounds to go to be at the weight I want to play at, and I should lose that in the first few weeks of training camp.

Honestly, I'm still not totally sure what to expect in training camp. But I'm so anxious to see what it's all about.

Updated on Monday, Jul 23, 2007 3:51 pm, EDT

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