"I feel like my old self again. I feel like I'm moving pretty well, and I feel good."
Getting through a rookie season brings its own challenges in the NFL.
But sustaining an injury during it and having to watch your team from the sidelines presents a whole other test.
Just ask Kyzir White.
The linebacker played in only three games for the Bolts during his first professional season and eventually was placed on the reserve/injured list in Week 9.
But if you look onto the field at Hoag Performance Center these last few weeks, you'll see number 44 healthy, back in action and grateful for what's to come in year two.
"(Being back) means everything for me," White said. "I'm happy to be back out there with the guys and it's a dream come true to be on an NFL team so I'm just trying to take full advantage of it."
After an impressive training camp, White was looking to parlay that performance into a key regular season role. In his limited action, he amassed 19 total tackles, one tackle for loss and three passes defensed. Additionally, he notched his first interception in Week 2 at Buffalo. But then, a knee injury kept him out of commission for the next four games before landing on IR cut his season short.
According to White, being sidelined was tough; however, he was able to rely on his father and older brother and former first-round pick, Kevin, for support.
"(Kevin) was hurt his first three years, and being a top-10 pick, he could definitely relate to what I was going through last year," he mentioned. "He was a big help for me. He said it's life. Everything's not (always) going to be on an uphill slope, you're going to have some battles in life."
Another thing White was able to glean from his experience last year was sharpening his mental aspect of the game. While he couldn't physically play, he mentally immersed himself in all things pro football. It's something White believes will set him up for success this season and feels he's already reaping its benefits.
"I had all that time away, so being able to look at the playbook, learn from other peoples' mistakes and ask a lot of questions, I feel like I'm a lot better, mentally. Now I can just play fast. I don't have to do too much thinking. Last year I felt like I was thinking a little bit too much sometimes. This year, I feel way more comfortable just as far as my preparation and I know what I'm doing. I'm definitely going to make some mistakes still, but that comes with it."
As he explained, working on the mental portions of his game is one of White's goals for 2019. But along with that is learning a new position – MIKE linebacker – as he discussed he's recently been working at that spot.
"(I want to) just be the best player I can be and also, be a better man on and off the field. Whatever the team needs me to do, I'm willing to do. (I feel like I'm in more of a leadership role) definitely now that they've got me playing some MIKE. I have to be more vocal and stuff like that, just know what everybody's doing…. I feel pretty comfortable. I'm still learning as I go, day by day. But I'm definitely feeling a lot better than I did when I first got put out there at the MIKE."
But while a position change isn't anything new – White did transition from safety in college to linebacker last season – he's excited for what's to come during his sophomore year. After all, just ask him, and he'll tell you any time he's had a supplementary year to hone his craft, he's only gotten better.
"It's major. I think every time I have a second year under my belt, it helps me out a lot. In junior college, my second year was always better. At West Virginia, my senior year compared to my junior year was a lot better. And this year, I think my second year is going to be a lot better than my rookie year even though I only got to play three games last year."
Get an up-close look as the Bolts get back on the Monday grind for OTAs.
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