Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis spent time with his family Saturday trying to keep his mind off the pending roster cuts taking place later that afternoon.
"You don't really find out," Abbrederis said of Saturday's deadline for teams to establish their 53-man roster. "You just wait until you don't get a call."
The phone didn't ring at the Abbrederis house Saturday, which meant he had made the Detroit Lions' initial 53-man roster, and won a very tough competition for the fifth and final roster spot at receiver.
He said there was no celebrating Saturday or Sunday, because making the initial roster doesn't guarantee anything. But on Monday, standing in front of his locker after the first Lions practice of the 2017 regular season, Abbrederis could finally crack a bit of a smile.
"I'm just excited to be here," he said. "We'll see what happens."
Abbrederis battled Jace Billingsley and a trio of undrafted rookies for a roster spot all through training camp and the preseason. In the end, he believes it was his versatility that won him a job.
"I think being able to do a lot of things on special teams ... the more you can do the better," he said. "That and trying to be as consistent as possible and having some experience might have helped too."
He played in 15 games with the Packers the last two seasons with 10 receptions for 119 yards. He had a four-catch, 57-yard game against the Lions back in 2015.
Abbrederis can return kicks, he can play on coverage units and can also step into all three receiver spots.
Billingsley, who returns on the practice squad, was primarily a slot receiver. In the end, it's Abbrederis' ability to do so many different things that probably won him the job.
MR. NICE GUY
There is a good chance that Darius Slay will find himself matched up with 14-year NFL veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald at some point Sunday when the Lions kick off the regular season against the Arizona Cardinals.
Not only is Fitzgerald one of the best receivers to ever play the game (10 Pro Bowls), but Slay says Fitzgerald is also one of the nicest.
"The only thing he's going to do is make me better," Slay said. "For people that don't know, he kind of corrects you if you're wrong about something out there on defense. That's how nice a guy he is."
Slay said it's always about friendly competition when going up against Fitzgerald.
"I remember one time we was in a coverage and he just knew – I'm not going to tell what coverage we were in – but we were in a coverage and he told me why he got me and how he knew what it was.
"He caught it and got up and was like, 'Hey, Slay, this is what you did.'"
Slay joked that he hopes Fitzgerald doesn't have that good of a memory of the last time they played in 2015. The Cardinals won that game 42-17, and Fitzgerald caught a touchdown.
It was certainly clear talking to Slay Monday that he has a ton of respect for the NFL's 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
40 YEARS AND COUNTING
Monday marked Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell's 17th season coaching in the NFL and his 40th in coaching overall. His coaching career began as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa in 1977. He broke into the NFL in 2001 as a quarterbacks coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I don't feel like I've ever worked a day in my life," Caldwell said before Monday's practice. "And the reason being because I enjoy what I do. It's a lot of fun, great challenge, great rewards working with guys like the guys we have an opportunity to work with.
"Through the years, man it's been fun. And it's been fun because of the fact that we've had good people around us, great organizations, and that's what I get excited about. Once again, we get to go try to get it done again, and so, looking forward to that."