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O'HARA: Waiting on roster news a humbling experience for Green

Tion Green could laugh Monday afternoon while he relived his ride on the emotional rollercoaster Saturday afternoon awaiting word on whether he had survived cut-down day to earn a spot on the Detroit Lions' 53-player roster.

As the hours and minutes ticked off to the 4 p.m. deadline, Green experienced emotions he didn't know existed.

"For the first time in my life, I faced anxiety," Green said. "It's anxiety. It's crazy. But it feels great to be here. It's a humbling experience. Never give up on your dreams."

While the last hours and minutes might have been a wide-awake nightmare until Green learned that he'd won a spot as a backup running back, it was well worth the wait. 

Green was one of the longest of longshots when the Lions signed him in May as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Cincinnati. Admittedly, he did not have the strongest resume as a five-year player at Cincinnati.

But from the beginning, Green's enthusiasm and willingness to work caught on with his Lions teammates, including veterans.

"I was really happy for him," veteran safety Don Carey said Monday about Green making the cut.

Green was never quite sure through the entire process about where he stood on the depth chart, but he bought into the dictum of head coach Jim Caldwell and his staff that it was a rep chart, not a depth chart. The goal was to take advantage of every opportunity to showcase what he could bring to the roster.

Caldwell did not want to talk specifically about what separated Green from other backs who didn't survive the cut, but he spoke generally about what stood out.

"I think those things are pretty obvious," Caldwell said. "He's growing. He can move well. He's deceptive in terms of his speed, as you saw the other night (the final preseason game at Buffalo).

"But he's a guy that's got some power, balance. And he's been effective in special teams, too."

The Lions kept five running backs, one more than last year. Green is the only rookie. The four veterans ahead of him are Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington.

Going into the final preseason game against the Bills, Green's biggest impression had been on special teams. He knew he would get more playing time on offense against the Bills, and in his mind it would be make-or-break to make the roster.

"That fourth game was everything for me," he said.

He responded with a big game. Green had eight carries for 63 yards, with a 35-yard run in the first half.

He added four catches for 87 yards, with a 74-yard touchdown on a screen pass.

On the touchdown, Green must have covered at least 100 yards as he weaved his way through the Bills' defenders to reach the end zone after catching the ball three yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Green isn't looking at making the roster as his final destination. It's part of the journey, and he knows nothing is guaranteed in pro football.

But looking back at the hurdles he has overcome to reach this point makes the path he took worthwhile.

"I didn't have the best senior year in the world," he said. "I was never a thousand-yard back in college. Never. I didn't get any Combine invite. A 4.7 in the 40.

"You get a little opportunity here in Detroit. Thank God, you get here. It goes to show you can persevere and go through anything with hard work and dedication.

"I'm testimony – living proof – to never give up on your dreams. Keep believing in yourself. Everything is possible."

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