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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Painful Reminder

Rennie Curran spent most of the early offseason reminding his teammates how important it was to avoid off-field problems this year. Dozens of teammates repeated a similar mantra.

But for all the talk, the axe still fell last month when defensive end Justin Houston and tight end Bruce Figgins were suspended for violations of team rules -- Houston for two games, Figgins for six.

Rather than lament the losses, however, Curran said he's tried to use the suspensions as a refresher course for the rest of the team. Even with all the reminders earlier this offseason, trouble still found its way into the locker room. The pressure to remain dedicated to the cause was turned up another notch.

"We know how hard we worked as a team this offseason, having mat drills and coming through the spring, having guys make awesome strides during this offseason," Curran said. "It's just disheartening to see somebody make a mistake when they know they have so much to lose. But at the same time you have to continue to motivate the guys and encourage them and continue to let them know that we're all in this together, that you've got to stay out of trouble and that you're not invisible to the public."

While the disappointment was significant, Curran said, the rest of the team has handled the situation as well as could be expected.

For one, other players are stepping up and volunteering to take on some of the load their suspended teammates leave behind.

"Houston's out because of some slight things that happened, and we have guys in our unit that have the capability to step up and make plays," defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. "All I'm trying to do is just make up some of the slack, and just do as much as I can."

"I didn't need somebody to get suspended to know that I'm going to step up to the challenge," freshman tight end Orson Charles said. "I have my own mind-set from the get-go that I just want to make everybody better around me. I just want to win."

The suspensions were a challenge to the rest of the roster and a reminder of just how careful everyone needs to be, but they can't serve as a distraction from the task at hand.

"The player reaction was that we've got to keep moving on," offensive lineman Vince Vance said. "Things happen, but we've got to let those players that it's not the downfall of their careers. But we also have to keep everyone on the right track."


jferg said...

2 more months...let's hope we can keep the arrest bug away for a bit longer!
I do like the leadership Curran seems to be giving this team. You really can't put a price on leadership...well, i guess we can (see last years LACK of leadership as the cost)

AppleDawg said...

Good article but we see things like this every off-season

It isn't until next year whether we know if they are full of crap or not