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In My Words: Nathan Shepherd 

Rookie Defensive Lineman Shares His Training Camp Expectations


When it comes to training camp, I've been told to expect the unexpected.

This is what I do know: It's hot, it's a grind, tempers can flare and it's a long 28 days. I'm not going to approach camp like that though. I have to attack each day and go 1-0 today. We have to get through today's practice and we have to perform at an elite level before I can think about tomorrow. One day at a time, one week at a time. You string 28 days of that together and you have a camp. If you do that, you'll end up where you want to be.

I feel great right now. I'm excited. I stayed in Jersey for most of the break to work on my conditioning and acclimate myself to the area. I've been in the facility five days a week because quite simply it's just where I want to be. Nine out of 10 days, it doesn't feel like work to me. I love this game and I'm very fortunate that I'm finally able to focus on what I love. It's my destiny to be on the field.

I've taken a long road to be here by working odd jobs everywhere from Canada to Hays, KS. I was in a plant nursery and also was employed as a bouncer. There was a stop at a printing factory and some time in security. I was a resident's assistant and I worked in construction. I've worn many hats in my 24 years, but I've only kept one since I was a kid — football player.

Even though I currently only have one job, it honestly still feels like I have 1,000. But this time it's just for one company under one roof, which I'm very thankful for. I've heard the saying that being a rookie is like drinking water through a firehose, but I kind of like it. You'd be surprised what you can take in and accomplish in a short amount of time. It's similar to the game. Sometimes receivers just go up for a ball, come down with it and think, "How they hell did I just catch that?" It's the same for rookies or any player learning a new scheme.

I believe the coaches throw more at you than you're ready for to challenge you to step up and expand your capacity for work. It's just a matter of repetition and continuously bombarding you with new things. Come to work and attack each task whether it be on or off the field. Also, this may be weird, but I kind of like carrying pads. It feels like a rite of passage. It's an unwritten welcoming to the league. If I have to sing in front of the guys or something like that, I'm all for it. My vocal cords are well rested.

I forgot one more thing I know about training camp: I'm ready. Bring it on.


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