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NFL Europe Diary Week 8: Raymond Ventrone

The Cologne Centurions dropped to 2-5 this past week with another close loss but Raymond Ventrone is still learning a lot from his time in Europe, even if the team isn't winning.

Another tough loss. It's been pretty much the same thing every week. You could say that we should have won a lot of those games but that's just the way football is. Any team can look at a lot of games and say we could have won that game but it comes down to who makes the most plays and the fewest mistakes and that unfortunately hasn't been us this year.

I didn't even realize we turned the ball over five times, I just knew we were on the field a lot. We've been able to create a lot of turnovers on defense. I think we're second in the league with 17 turnovers. We're getting the ball back to the offense but we're just not holding onto it enough.

I forced a fumble last week and recovered it. We knew they were going to try and run the ball a lot so I was playing in the box for most of the game. I made a lot of plays without actually making the play. I forced a lot of plays back to the linebackers and they were able to make some tackles. I forced that fumble which was really big because it led to some points and tied the game up.

We did well against the pass. I don't think they really threw the ball that well against us. We just had a breakdown late in the game that cost us. We had a few sacks and some of those were because we had the receivers locked down pretty good in the secondary.

What I've improved on the most since being over here is getting more comfortable playing in an NFL-type defense. The NFL is a passing league and I feel more comfortable defending the pass. In college we didn't play NFL-type defenses. I've gotten better at reading the quarterback and identifying certain tendencies and things like that.

We have three games left. We play this week at Amsterdam, who beat us the first time we played them. My brother came up this week to visit me for a week, so he'll be at the game. He plays safety for the University of Pittsburgh. He redshirted last year so this will be his first year actually playing.

[Raymond is good friends with former Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round this past weekend.]

You know what? I haven't been able to talk with him yet but one of my other buddies talked to him and he was really excited. He thought that he was going to go higher in the draft but he's still excited to be going to Tampa Bay. It's a good situation for him. He's a good player and a hard worker. He's excited about the situation. I'm going to give him a call as soon as I get back.

I followed the first round of the draft but the second day was during our game so I didn't see it. I was able to follow the first round and it looks like the Patriots were able to address some offensive positions. They took some good offensive players and from what I read on the computer and stuff most prognosticators think we had a good draft. I thought we would probably take a receiver because we lost [David] Givens but I wasn't sure what else they would draft. I had no clue.

I'm starting to get mentally prepared for mini-camp in June. I brought my notebook over from last preseason and started studying that. I'm looking at two defenses and playing one right now. I'm excited to get back and get on the field with those guys.

It's been a good experience over here though. I met some good guys and we've become close friends. Luckily I was put in a good city with good guys. We haven't been able to win too many games but it's still been a good experience. Hopefully we can pull out a couple of wins in our final three games.

As told by Raymond "Bubba" Ventrone to Patriots Football Weekly's Tom Casale.

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