There are many difficult aspects of being a rookie in the NFL. For some, these aspects are more complex than for others.
Last year, Dylan Gandy not only had to deal with being a rookie, but being a rookie offensive lineman, one of the hardest positions to learn in the NFL. Add to that challenge the fact that the Colts’ offense is one of the most multifaceted in the league. Quarterback Peyton Manning screams, jerks, signals, calls audibles (whether they are decoy or not) and often waits until the last second on the play clock to take a snap, which can make a Colts’ offensive lineman’s life difficult…especially when you are new. Fortunately for Gandy, he’s been able to build upon a successful collegiate career by learning from one of the NFL’s best offensive line coaches, Howard Mudd.
“Your rookie year is one of those deals where people can tell you what to expect, but you really don’t understand until you go through it,” Gandy told ColtPower. “Technique is so crucial for the Colts’ offensive line. He [Howard Mudd] requires the players to be held at a high level of accountability for their technique and knowing what their assignments are.”
A rookie offensive lineman also quickly realizes that the defensive linemen in the NFL are a far different breed than the ones they saw in college. For example, Gandy can look forward to playing the Jacksonville Jaguars twice a year, which means facing off against defensive tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud, who line up at 6-foot-7, 328 pounds and 6-foot-6, 312 pounds respectively.
“The physical aspect is definitely huge just because everybody in the NFL is so extremely talented, so the constant competition is one thing [difficult about the NFL],” he said.
Gandy spent most of the 2005 season on the sideline coming in for what he calls ‘mop-up duty’ from time to time and participating on special teams. But then in week 15, only three series into a contest with the San Diego Chargers, starting guard Ryan Diem went down with an injury. Gandy was called on to step in at right guard while Jake Scott moved out to tackle. Not only was it his first real action, but the Colts’ were still striving for a perfect season.
“It was difficult because that was my first time getting on the field when it really counted other than special teams,” Gandy said. “It was difficult, but at the same time they pay us to be ready at all times and that’s why I was on the team, in case something like that happened.”
For the remaining two regular season games, Gandy got the start at right guard while Diem continued to recover from his injury. And while the 2005 season ended in disappointment for the Colts, Gandy will never forget the ride.
“What a blessing it is to come in and here we are going into week 14 and I don’t know what it’s like to lose an NFL game,” he said. “It was just an unbelievable experience. I’m just so grateful to have been a part of it and I had a great time with it.”
Entering his second season with the Colts, Diem feels much more comfortable. Although he will return to his back-up role to begin the 2006 season, Gandy is happy to help the Colts in any way he can.
“I have fun on the field, whether it’s special teams or playing on the offensive line, I’m really enjoying it,” he said.
Gandy made it clear that the Colts’ will only be happy with one outcome this season – a Super Bowl victory. He looks forward to more great memories with the Colts and is thrilled about playing for the team and in the city of Indianapolis.
“I love the team I’m on, I love the city, the fans here are great and the organization as a whole, from Mr. Irsay to Mr. Polian to coach Dungy…everyone is top notch,” Gandy said.
ColtPower Insiders will find out if Gandy hit "the wall" that many rookies experience during their first longer football season, his thoughts on his three-game stretch of playing experience at the end of the year, his outlook on the 2006 season and more in Wednesday's Colts Q&A feature.