A good portion of the fan base is growing anxious about their new middle linebacker following a quiet preseason. After such a long wait for a bona fide MIKE to step in, there is trepidation that the two-time Pro Bowler might not live up to the billing.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Ryans of the doubters. “I don’t take it into consideration. My job is to be credible to my teammates, to go out and be accountable to what we’re doing in our defense and our scheme, and that’s the only thing that matters to me.
“I understand those expectations, but the expectations of ourselves are what weigh on me more than anything else. The expectation within the organization and the locker room is to get it done.”
Ryans has been asked about his Achilles, which he tore back in 2010, dozens of times since he was acquired from the Texans for a fourth-round pick and a swap of third-rounders back in March. He has maintained that it is not even remotely an issue any longer. His play appeared to pick up as preseason went along, and he ended with five tackles in three games.
“Everything counts now,” said Ryans. “When the season is over, I don’t remember anyone going back and talking about the preseason — you never hear anything else about it. It’s the flavor of the month, that’s what it was at the time. Football is back, it’s what people had to talk about. But the season is what they remember.”
* Mychal Kendricks said that nothing changed for him at practice Monday. He is still running as the starting strongside linebacker and in the nickel. The expectations continue to rise for the second-round pick out of Cal as the regular season draws near. He is starting to be mentioned as a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
“The pressure is going to be there, it’s just whether you’re going to rise to the occasion or not,” said Kendricks, who has been a standout both in training camp and preseason games. He is prepared for things to ratchet up, and up, and up…
“It’s only going to kick up from here,” said Kendricks. “Then playoffs, I’m sure that’s another level. Then you’re talking about the Super Bowl, that’s something I can’t even fathom yet. So yeah, I’m expecting it to kick up a notch.”
Good to see the rookie thinking ahead.
* It was brought up Monday that Ryans’ first game in the NFL came against, interestingly enough, the Eagles back in 2006. He led his team with 13 tackles that day, and got right into the mix.
“On the first play I made the tackle on Brian Westbrook,” said Ryans. “I had a pretty good game. I always remember that first one. I think that was my first and only time playing against the Eagles.”