Hours turned into days, and days turned into weeks as running back De'Veon Smith continued to work out at training facilities in Weston, Fla., then in Baltimore, waiting for his phone call. For Smith, getting a invitation to join spring practices meant that he would have an opportunity to prove his worth in training camp, to have a shot at making a 53-man roster. Unfortunately, that call never came.
Fast forward two months, and the former Michigan Wolverine finally received one from the Washington Redskins, working out for coaches and scouts on Monday. The next day he was thrust into a thick position battle at running back, amidst multiple injuries at the position, and finally has the opportunity to prove his value.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' preparing for their Preseason Week 3 game against the Denver Broncos Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
Smith wasn't the only running back signed that day. The 2012 League MVP Adrian Peterson trained beside him during his workout, which for Smith definitely added fuel to the fire.
"Honestly, I think that's why I had a good workout," Smith said. "I'm a really competitive person so I don't really care who you are, I'm not going to let you outshine me even though you are who you are. He just brought out that competitive spirit in me and I was ready to go. I approached it like I was a game. I didn't know if they were going to sign one back, two backs, I just needed to get on the team. It worked out for the both of us."
Smith's parachuting arrival puts him into a time crunch, seeing as he only has two weeks to get his head into the playbook and prove why he should have a spot on the 53-man roster. But if you ask Smith, he's just happy to have an opportunity to play in whatever capacity he's needed.
"It meant everything, because I had previously worked out with the Colts and things didn't turn out the right way for me," he said. "Overall, it's been a good process, having to learn the playbook pretty quick since the game is Friday. I'm staying in late, coming in early as much as I can, learning from all the players, all the running backs, just trying to do what I can as far as special teams and running back."
Even though he's only been on the roster for 48 hours, Smith was quick to articulate how eager he was to dive into the playbook with recent another recently signed wide receiver Dan Williams III.
"It's [the playbook] similar [to Michigan], just a little bit of different terminology, but it's really similar," Smith said. "I've just got to put two and two together you know what I mean? I'm learning from everybody. Last night I was up, me and Dan Williams until 12:30-1, just studying plays, reading plays out to each other. Me and him, we just started having conversations yesterday. He rode back with me, and he just said let's get in the playbook and we were just trying to help each other out."
As a collegiate back, Smith led the Wolverines running back committee in rushing in 2014 and 2015. After spending the 2017 season with the Miami Dolphins as a practice squad player, Smith is ready for NFL action. While his past is similar to that of many NFL journeymen, his unique path to the Redskins is what contributes to his optimistic mindset.
"I only have two [preseason] games, so I've got to go out there and be perfect" he said. "But you know, that's on me putting my head into the playbook. I'm up for the challenge, and I'm confident in myself. Since I've missed two [games] I have a little bit fresher legs. A lot of guys are beat up right now. How I'm going to approach it is, if I don't ball out, I'm out. There's no mess ups this game, there can't be any of that. Nothing but positive yards, and hopefully have a good game – passing game, running game, and on special teams."