David Fales was expecting a call to come sooner or later that would give him a job opportunity.
A job “opportunity” is different than a job “offer,” but when you’re on the outside looking in while the NFL’s offseason programs are nearing the end, a chance to get on a roster at any time is welcome.
The call Fales got from the Detroit Lions was an opportunity for him to compete for a roster spot as a backup quarterback. It came later than would have been ideal for him, but it was soon enough for him to participate in the last week of the offseason program.
“It’s better than a week into (training) camp,” Fales after the last OTA practice. “That’s for sure.”
What's also for sure is that the NFL's personnel merry-go-round may slow down at times, but it never stops spinning. Fales has learned that from experience since the Chicago Bears drafted him in the sixth round out of San Jose State in 2014.
A spot on the Lions’ roster opened for Fales when former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook was released at the beginning of the last week of OTAs.
That let Fales get into the quarterback meeting room with starter Matthew Stafford and backup Tom Savage and begin learning the basics coordinator Darrell Bevell’s offense.
Joining a new team on the fly has been compared to being like a kid transferring to a new school. Fales was learning names and faces at the same time he was beginning to learn the offense.
“You try to meet as many guys as you can in the locker room,” Fales said. “I’m trying to put my head down and learn this stuff as fast as I can so I can get a couple of reps out here (with the offense) and be able to break the huddle and snap the ball.”
Fales has been a quarterback on the move in college and the NFL.
He spent a year at the University of Nevada in 2009, two years at Monterey Peninsula College (2010-11) and then two seasons at San Jose State, where he attracted attention from NFL scouts with his accuracy and production. Fales passed for 8,382 yards and 66 touchdowns while completing 68.1 percent of his passes.
Fales’ travels continued in the NFL.
After two seasons with the Bears he was released in the mandatory roster cut in 2016, then signed by the Ravens to their practice squad. The Bears signed him back to their active roster in late November. He finally made his regular-season debut in the final regular season game. He completed two of five passes in a loss to the Vikings.
Fales spent the last two seasons with the Dolphins. He appeared in three games as a backup, completing 31 of 48 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown. He also had a rushing TD.
Fales was on the move – but for different reasons – when he got the call from the Lions. He was living in Florida with his wife and nine-month-old daughter and had begun the process of relocating back to California.
He had never been without a team this long, and he was starting to feel the stress of planning a family move while waiting to hear from a team.
“Except for not being in the full offseason program, this is the longest I’ve been out,” he said. “It ended up going a little longer than I thought. You know the day’s going to come. You’re not sure when. Trying to figure out when that day is, it’s tough.”
Fales had never met Stafford before, despite having spent two full seasons and part of the third in the same division as the Lions while with the Bears.
“He’s a veteran – super smart, talented,” Fales said. “It’s awesome to watch him kind of learn the offense, too. He’s helped me out along the way.
“I’ll definitely keep communicating with any questions I have on the offense.”