First impression: The pace is accelerated

Updated: January 26, 2005, 2:27 PM ET
By Mark Clayton | Special to ESPN.com

I arrived in Mobile on Saturday and jumped right into my Senior Bowl interviews. The Dolphins were first up and I really enjoyed the experience. It was cool -- much different than I expected.

I thought the process would be strict, but it was an easy going atmosphere. They let me be me. The Dolphins took the time wanted to get to know my true personality. It was fun.

Mark Clayton
Dan Anderson/ESPN.comMark Clayton would be a great weapon for Kyle Boller.
Things only got better as the other players arrived in town. It is cool to meet a lot of great guys from teams from all over the country.

I'm playing for the North team in Saturday's game. Our first team meetings introduced us to the life of an NFL player. It's much different than at Oklahoma. The Raiders coaches started us off with the general stuff -- the lingo, attitude and structure of the squad. But then things got interesting.

Everything started coming at once. We were given the playbooks and went over the route trees for receivers. The players are expected to know everything after the first time.

When we hit the practice field, you could sense how unsure everyone was. And it showed. Practice was sloppy. The pace of the practices is different, too -- faster. You have one chance to run your route. Then you move on. We flew through it, mistakes and all. Nobody did as well as they thought they could.

At Monday night's dinner, all we talked about was the tough practices. Dinner ran late, which made me late for that night's interviews. I was scheduled to meet with the Bucs at 8 p.m., but the team didn't arrive at the hotel until 8:08. I wanted to have a professional look for the interviews, but now I didn't have time to change. I ended up having to meet with the Bucs, Falcons and Texans in my jersey and sweats.

Each interview was different. The Bucs was one-on-one with their GM, while the Falcons had me outnumbered five to one. Most of the questions concentrated on my life outside of football. They asked me about my family. They asked me who was the most important person in my life. (That was an easy answer: my grandmother.) The process was easy for me. I just tell it like it is. The teams also asked lots of questions about whether I had been in any trouble. More easy answers. All were no.

Practice was much smoother on Tuesday. Guys were flying around and having fun. It's time to cut loose and go. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week. My main goals are to stay consistent and try to win the game.

There's one other thing I should tell you about: the weigh in. Standing around in front of all those coaches and scouts in only shorts and socks was weird. People aren't exaggerating when they say it makes you feel like a bunch of cattle.

I'll check back with you later in the week and during the game.

Mark

Editor's note: Oklahoma wide receiver Mark Clayton is keeping a diary for ESPN.com during Senior Bowl week.

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