Copyright 2008

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This is the fourth installment of Jeremy Zuttah’s Training Camp Diary, exclusively on Zuttah, the rookie offensive lineman who was Tampa Bay’s third-round pick, will be checking in with three times per week with his thoughts on training camp and life in the NFL.


On Monday, Coach Gruden took the whole team to see The Dark Knight right across the street from the hotel where we are staying. I had seen it the first night, but the first time I saw it was the first night and I had a terrible seat in the front row. I had to look straight up to see it and I had a neck cramp. This time I got to see more of the whole screen, so it was a good experience. Coach treated us to snacks and drinks, so it was good. It was a change up from some of the stuff we were eating. As a rookie, I only had to go out one time to get something for somebody, so it wasn’t too much trouble. I did see some of the rookies with armfuls of popcorn and candy for the other guys, so I guess I got off easy.

It was a great movie. I liked it. I’m not going to ever, ever get to the point where I’ll say Batman is realistic, but it’s more realistic than the other ones before it. I think it was a deeper plot than the usual Batman movie, which is just action. I think it was an all-around good movie. It had a good twist to it. Heath Ledger nailed his performance. That was sick. He nailed the Joker. That was a great performance by him.

I keep getting asked about the heat, but it hasn’t been that bad. We have our full-padded practice in the morning, so the heat is not too rough. At Rutgers, the temperatures on the FieldTurf would hit in the 90’s, so it would be a 100-plus heat index. That’s about the same as we’ve had to deal with out here. It’s been hot, but not too bad. When I’m out here, I like to be in full pads anyway. I like wearing the shoulder pads because we’re out there banging and they obviously protect your shoulders. Even though we don’t do much contact with the legs, I like wearing the pants better than shorts. The pants keep our knee braces up, so I like that. I had a knee injury my freshman year. It was nothing major, just a sprain. But I always wear knee braces with all of the guys falling all over each other.

When Jeff Faine was out for a few days, it was very beneficial to me because of the extra reps I got at the center position. To tell you the truth, I took very little guard reps while he was out. I got to focus in and key in on the center position. I learned a couple little things because Jeff was out there watching me and talking to me when he was on the sidelines. A lot of times, you don’t see centers making too many bone-crunching blocks because it’s a war down there with you and the nose guard. You’ve got one hand between your legs and you’re trying to block a 320-pound man. That’s difficult.

Over the past week, the one thing I’ve been working on is jumping the count a bit. The center – that’s the one guy that can never be offsides. That’s the one big advantage of that position that the center has to use to overcome the disadvantage of having one hand between your legs. At the same time you can’t screw your linemen over by leaving early. That would be a disadvantage for our guys. There’s a lot to learn about the center position. There is a lot more freedom at the center position.

Coach Gruden is the kind of coach I’ve been used to these last four years with Coach Schiano. He demands a certain level of focus and a certain level of urgency in the practices. That’s the same thing that Coach Schiano had us go through at Rutgers. Coach Gruden always tries to put pressure on us, hurry us up and make it hard for us. I haven’t had a Chucky moment yet, but he came at me a little bit one time, then he started smiling. I didn’t know how to react to it at first. He’s definitely intense, but that’s my kind of coach.


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