For Stephen Paea, his rookie year was plagued by injuries and inconsistent play. He didn't make his NFL debut until Week Six and he celebrated that occasion when he recorded a sack of Donovan McNabb.
This season, the Bears are expecting big things out of Paea. Early in camp, the 24-year-old has seen significant playing time with the No. 1's alongside Henry Melton at defensive tackle.
Although the Bears view Paea as key to their future, the former Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year knows he needs to work on his consistency if he wants to achieve success in the NFL.
"Being consistent with the plays because sometimes I'll do a good job and then three plays later, the same play will come and I'll be off-balance with my step. I just go to be consistent."
Watching veterans like Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman in practice has been a major learning tool in Paea's young career.
"Peppers for instance, he's very consistent every single day in practice, so seeing that from a 10-year veteran, he takes pride in that and I take pride in that. Coming to practice every day I watch him do bags and he does each drill the same. I'm trying to look up to those guys."
With one year of experience under his belt, Paea could now be a mentor for rookie defensive end Shea McClellin. But first, he has to make sure former Boise State star gets a taste of what he went through last year in Bourbonnais.
"We write down our snacks and it's been a two page list of snacks. That's a good start right there. We all went through it and he's going to go through it this year. It's all part of the rookie experience."