Back with the Redskins first with the practice squad and then on the 53-man active roster, Lynden Trail received his first regular season action on Saturday against the Bears.
Redskins linebacker Lynden Trail has been through a lot more than a typical first-year pro.
A four-star high school recruit in 2010, Trail committed to Florida. But after a redshirt season and a lack of playing time, Trail decided to transfer to Norfolk State.
The Miami native thrived at Norfolk State. He made the first-team All-MEAC, was a two-time finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defender at the FCS level and was selected the National FCS Defensive Performer of the Year by the College Football Performance Awards.
His accolades, combined with a large 6-foot-7, 260-pound frame had several NFL teams intrigued come the 2015 NFL Draft.
But on draft weekend, Trail did not hear his named called. After signing as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans, Trail was one of the final cuts of training camp. He would record two practice squad stints with the Redskins in 2015 before spending this past offseason in Washington.
Trail performed well enough in the preseason to land a spot on the practice squad, but was released after the second week of the season.
Trail signed with the Los Angeles Rams practice squad ten days later, but the Rams released him shortly after.
"[I] left here earlier in the season, spent some time out in L.A. with the Rams, and then I was home for a good three weeks when I was out of football," Trail said.
For the first time in his life, Trail was not playing football. "One of my friends [offered] me this gig at UPS, so I decided to do it," he said.
For several weeks, Trail worked at UPS during the day and trained at night, hoping he would get that one last shot.
"I was kind of trying to prepare myself for life after football," Trail said. "But someone once told me, 'All you need is the faith of a mustard seed.' I just tried to stay positive."
With injuries to linebackers Will Compton, Su'a Cravens, and Houston Bates, the Redskins all of a sudden lacked depth at a position they were once very deep at. With Bates out for the season, and Compton and Cravens' statuses uncertain entering Saturday's game against Chicago, Washington reached out to a familiar face.
"I got a call in the middle of work," Trail said. "They were like, 'Are you in shape?' I was like, 'I go to work, I go home, then I work out. I'm not in the best shape of my life, I'm in football shape.' They told me to stop whatever I was doing, call my supervisor and I pretty much needed to drive up to Ashburn."
On Thursday, the Redskins added Trail back to the practice squad.
"I was thinking maybe this was an opportunity to come back on the practice squad and maybe show these guys what I can do," Trail said. "Maybe they were going to offer me a futures contract for next year, or maybe they were just trying to steal me before anyone else could."
The corresponding move the Redskins made a day later surprised Trail – he had been promoted to the active roster. For the first time in his NFL career, Trail was going to be active for a regular season NFL game.
With the Redskins ahead late over Chicago, Trail made his NFL debut, recording one tackle in six snaps. The Norfolk State product also played two additional snaps on special teams.
"It was crazy," Trail said. "I've told [general manager] Scot [McCloughan] multiple times I always appreciate the opportunity. I felt like he's one of those guys that truly believes in me, and to be back here still is surreal. It didn't really click for me until I ran out of the tunnel. I'm texting different family members, I'm texting my mom, I'm texting my fiancé, I'm texting my friends like 'this doesn't feel real. Somebody pinch me.' This is my dream, and just to be out there is me living it."