The second-year safety feels as though he's done enough to make the roster this season, but knows from last year's experience that anything can happen.
The thing Redskins safety Deshazor Everett remembers the most was the waiting.
The day before Saturday roster cuts are made – the day before 22 players get a call from a team official and get asked to turn in their playbook to the facility – might be, at least for those unsure of their place on the roster, the most challenging day of the season.
Fresh off their final preseason game, one that gives coaches a final look at who should fill out the team, players have the unenviable task of spending an entire day determining if they've done enough to be suited up for the first regular season game of the year.
"Being new in the league, seeing how everything operates, the business aspect of it, you're basically just waiting," Everett said. "You have the whole day and you know they're going to call you if you're getting cut and they're not going to call you, you're just going to have to show up for the team meeting. It's nerve-wracking. That's like the one time that you don't want your phone to ring. For the Draft you want the phone to ring, and it still may not ring, but you know you still have opportunities."
That was true for Everett last season. He latched onto the Buccaneers as a college free agent but was cut before training camp began. With little depth at cornerback, the Redskins scooped him up the next day before heading to Richmond, Va., and liked what they saw from the Texas A&M product. Everett's breakout performance came against the Ravens, when he forced a fumble on a punt return, offering a window into his dynamic special teams play.
Still, he was on the bubble following the final preseason game. The Friday before roster cuts, he went to the mall to window shop if only to keep his mind off what might be coming. But the phone call never came on Saturday.
The list of players waived was released, and family members and friends soon started congratulating him.
"Once I made it, I was happy, excited. I told my family," Everett said. "And then, I get a call two days later, 'Hey you got to come in, bring your playbook, don't worry about it, things are going to be fine.' But it was like, 'If it's going to be fine why am I bringing my playbook?' It's definitely not something you want to hear, but even up and after the day I got cut, people were still texting me congratulations on making the 53. So I was really upset about the situation, but I knew I still had an opportunity to play football, get a shot."
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' 2016 Preseason Week 4 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Aug. 31, 2016, at Raymond James Stadium.
Everett was waived from the team on Monday and then offered a practice squad contract on Tuesday, a roster formality that didn't necessarily ease Everett's transition into the NFL. By the fourth week, however, the Redskins needed him to provide depth to an injury-depleted secondary and he remained on the active roster for the rest of the year.
This season he has continued to progress, even as he's switched to safety. His special teams play has remained his biggest strength and a reason the coaching staff would like to keep him on a roster that's crowded at safety and corner this year.
Everett knows it's a numbers game, but he's also more confident and comfortable about his status than a year ago.
"This year I can't say I proved myself, but I've done some things to catch some eyes, I've made a couple plays. People know my name, as opposed to last year where I got to go out there and make a statement for myself," Everett said. "This year I have a little more leeway just because of the fact that, 'OK, we know what he can do, let's give this guy a chance,' as opposed to being a rookie and haven't done anything."
Everett has certainly done his part in three preseason games, tallying 17 tackles and a forced fumble. Against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, he batted a pass that Duke Ihenacho was able to dive and collect for an interception. Everett's spoken the most with cornerback Dashaun Philips and linebacker Houston Bates, two players that went through a similar practice squad to active roster jump last year, throughout the preseason.
"I was pretty uncomfortable the whole time and when I got the call it was a heartbreaker," Bates said of last year. "But that's just the way it is. It's a business, you know, and that's what you got to approach it as."
Regardless of the emotional whirlwind Everett encountered last year, the experience he gained playing the majority of the regular season and the credibility he displayed throughout training camp and the preseason, he knows he's never safe in the NFL, just incrementally safer.
"There's definitely less anxiety," Everett said. "A guy in my position, I still have that thought in the back of my head, it may not work out. [Practice squad is] definitely another chance, but it's not something you want to happen, especially after playing the whole year. To me that's taking a step backwards. I just want to continue moving forward."