Robertson Daniel had a good excuse for missing the second day of Green Bay Packers training camp.
That’s because he became a dad with the birth of his daughter, Marleina, on Wednesday.
“It’s been a life-changing experience,” Daniel said after Saturday’s practice. “I’m just enjoying every moment of it. I’m just blessed to have a healthy daughter.”
Daniel got to spend the first night with his family but is back in the dorms at St. Norbert College with the rest of his teammates. It’s a small sacrifice, Daniel said, for a bigger goal. Not that Daniel, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent last year, was lacking motivation. But now that motivation is amplified as he battles for his job that will provide his family financial security.
“It changes everything,” Daniel said. “Now, it’s not about you. It’s about doing things for your family and making sure you get the job done. It’s not ‘if’ I want to do it. I’ve got to do it and I’m going to do it now.”
Daniel was a standout junior-college safety who was moved to cornerback shortly before his first game at BYU in 2013. After going undrafted, he spent training camp with the Raiders. When he was released, he signed onto Green Bay’s practice squad, where he stayed until an end-of-season promotion to the active roster.
“It meant a lot but it just let me know that there’s more hard work ahead of me and I need to keep grinding,” Daniel said. “When you work hard, you get rewarded. Whatever you put into the game, it’s going to give right back. That’s what happened at the end of last year and I’m going for the same thing this year.”
With a year of seasoning under cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt, whom Daniel said made him a “completely different player,” Daniel is primed to contend for a roster spot. There is a void in the secondary, with Casey Hayward’s free-agent defection and Demetri Goodson’s four-game, season-opening suspension. Daniel has made some plays, including a goal-line deflection late in Saturday’s practice. The roster battles, however, aren’t front and center on Daniel’s mind.
There’s enough to keep Daniel preoccupied.
“If you’re focused on that, then you’re not focusing on the plays, you’re not focusing on communication on the field,” he said. “If you’re putting that on your focus, that means you’ve got to take something out. You can only focus on a certain amount of things at one time. If you take that out, you’ll start playing a lot better because you’re not thinking, you’re not stressing.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.