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Rookies Adjusting to NFL Life By Sleeping More

There was great energy on the practice fields at Flowery Branch in Week 15 as the team focused in on preparing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Take a look at these photos from practice.

The lives of college football players and professional football players are, of course, different in many ways. Student athletes have to spend lots of time in the classroom, in the library, at school events, at jobs; those in the NFL, conversely, aren't pulled in a slew of directions.

One of the biggest differences between the two is the length of their schedules. College teams play roughly 13 times throughout fall and winter, while NFL franchises are guaranteed 20 contests—four exhibition, 16 regular season—each year.

This uptick leads to more hits, more bruises, more hours spent lifting weights and parsing tape. So adjustments need to be made.

On Wednesday, four rookies were asked, "What have you had to change about your routine since joining the Falcons?" and they all offered a version of the same response: "I have to focus more on sleep."

"It all comes down to rest," said safety Robenson Therezie. "At the end of the day, having a fresh body and getting your rest is important to being able to play fast at this level.

During his tenure at Oregon State, RB Terron Ward would usually go to bed around midnight, wake up at 8 a.m. and feel refreshed. Now that he has to be up before sunrise, however, he makes sure to get to sleep around 9 p.m.

Quite a change from student life, where late nights and free time are a lot more common than early alarms.

"In college you have more time to yourself and have time to get some rest," said Tevin Coleman. "So I need to focus on that more now to make sure I'm as fresh as I can be."

The transition from college to the pros is complicated by how much work is put in between the final NCAA appearance and the NFL debut. Nearly an entire calendar year passes before they're able to take a step back, which makes it all the more vital to take care of one's body.

"As a rookie, it's almost like an 18-month plan," said Therezie. "You finish the season, you get ready for the combine, then your pro day. Before you know it, you're in OTAs and training camp. There's not really a lot of rest time between those months.

"That's almost the toughest thing: being fresh. Because we never stop playing. We never really had a break for real. So you have to make sure to get to bed."

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