With one week of training camp left and two preseason games on the horizon, the fight to make the 53-man roster is heating up.
Isaac Rochell knows exactly how stressful this time of year can be for a rookie as he was in their shoes last season. A seventh-round draft pick, he made his NFL debut in the home opener against Denver, but it wasn’t an easy road to get there.
“Last year it was kind of survival mode, like ‘I need to make the team, I need to be great every single play,’” Rochell said. “Now it’s kind of like each play is another opportunity to compete.”
With Joey Bosa resting for a minor foot injury, Rochell has had the chance to step up both in camp and the two preseason games played so far. In Saturday’s game against the Seahawks, he walked away with two sacks.
“(It) felt really good,” he said. “It’s one of those things that you can evaluate the game (as there’s) definitely stuff that needs to be improved, but it just feels good. That’s one of those things in football. It feels good to get sacks and to get two of them felt really nice.”
Last week, Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley mentioned he’s happy with the way Rochell has been progressing during the offseason.
“We really started to see (his progress) in OTAs and he has carried it on into training camp,” Bradley said. “You hate to see this happen to Joey, but it will be a great opportunity for Isaac and for us to evaluate him…He is just playing really consistent (and) coming in here now with another opportunity to play.”
According to Rochell, this year’s camp has been a “night-and-day difference mentally” as he’s learned to focus on football and not on the pressure of making the team.
“Throughout the game, my goal is to get better than I was at the beginning of the game,” he said. “It’s not just survival mode. You don’t have to win the Super Bowl every play. You don’t have to make the team every play. You just need to continue to compete and get better… From a negative perspective, I was trying to handle (stress) too early in camp. (I was) focusing on counting numbers and looking at the D-line room Week 1 when I really should’ve just been focused on competing and getting better.”
As for how the rookies should handle stress the next few weeks knowing roster cuts are on the horizon?
“Just relax. What else can you do?” Rochell said. “Even when you are relaxing or doing something that’s supposed to be distracting, you’re still extremely stressed, hoping you’re not going to get a 949 number, but it is what it is. It’s just part of the game.”
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