Breathing a Big Sigh of Relief

No day is worse for a football player than cutdown Saturday, when their professional fates will be determined by a phone call (bad news) or the lack of a phone call (good news). A draft pick, an undrafted rookie and a veteran tell us about their nerve-wracking waits.

Nobody in the locker room was more excited than outside linebacker Brad Jones.

The rookie seventh-round pick had made the Packers' roster — in case that couldn't have been figured out with that mile-wide grin.

We've got reaction from a draft pick (Jones), an undrafted rookie who didn't expect to make the team (center/guard Evan Dietrich-Smith) and a veteran who saw his camp end in disappointment the last three years (tight end/linebacker Spencer Havner).

The Undrafted Rookie: Evan Dietrich-Smith

So, how does it feel?

It feels great. It was a long shot for me, and come today to still be around, it's exciting.

What was your goal when you signed back in April?

Make practice squad. That's what I was kind of shooting for. Just go out there and try my hardest. I figured if I went out there and played well enough, if they weren't going to keep me around here, that hopefully I could go somewhere else. Being that I was able to show something, they felt that I played well enough to keep me around.

Was there a moment when you figured out that maybe it wasn't as hard as you thought it might be?

It's just as hard as you think, but I think it's fun. I enjoy the competition. Going up against better competition makes you play better and makes you better as a player, period. For me getting out here and getting to go against guys like ‘Jenks' (Cullen Jenkins) and guys that have been in the league, that stuff gets you jacked.

You played well in the preseason, especially against Tennessee. Was there a point when you thought you might have made it?

I always kind of expected the worst. I didn't want to get my hopes up. ‘Oh, no, there comes a call.' For me to get this opportunity is a blessing. I was more than satisfied and more than happy to stay here and contribute to this team, because this is a great team and a great organization. It was one of those days where you don't want a phone call, because if you got a phone call, it wasn't going to be good news. It was pretty nerve-wracking on Saturday. Every time your phone rings, you don't want that ‘920' number to pop up. Once the day was done, I felt great.

The Draft Pick: Brad Jones


Brad Jones
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
So, how does it feel to be an official member of the Packers?

It's great. It feels amazing. It really feels good. I don't know how else to describe it. It's a great feeling.

Did you think you played well enough?

You always think you played well. But then you kind of second-guess yourself and ‘maybe this' and ‘maybe that.' But I thought I did well. But in the back of your mind, you never know.

What did you do when 3 o'clock came and went on Saturday?

I didn't know it was 3. I thought it was 5. It was about 3:30 and my agent called me and was like, ‘Is it all quiet over there?' I was like, ‘Yeah, but we've still got 30 minutes.' He said, ‘No, it was at 3.' I was like, ‘OK! We're good then!'

You had a pretty big hill to climb because of missing the first two weeks of camp with your back ...

Definitely, missing two weeks, I just had to get on my marks and go when I got back. I knew after missing two weeks that I had to really, really show the coaches what I could do right now. It couldn't take me a couple of days to get into it. I knew I had to get the ground going.

You definitely did that. You played well in the preseason ...

I'm just happy. It's just a good feeling, man. It's good.

The Veteran: Spencer Havner

I think most of us (the media) expected you to make it. Did you?

I was pleasantly surprised. I think I'm good enough to be on the team but it wasn't like I was ... I've been through the worst of it. Saying it like that, it's nice to get rewarded.

Was it a sigh of relief? A scream of excitement?

It was more like I can finally eat now. I can get out of bed. I was in bed for two days pretty much. It was pretty brutal. It's rough.

After getting cut the last three years at the end of camp as a linebacker, now you've made it because you can play tight end. It's quite a story.

I feel like I could write a book sometimes with all the stuff I've been through and seen. It's great. I'm pumped up. I really want to make an impact on special teams. I know special teams is what's keeping me here. They could probably get a tight end if they wanted to.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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