ST. LOUIS — For the first time in his professional football career, Chase Reynolds says he can see some light at the end of the tunnel.
While it flickers, far from a blaze, it’s more than he’s ever had at this time of year.
“I knew coming in, it wasn’t going to be easy” he says, still sweating from a football practice that just finished.
Among the 36 Rams who participated in two-hour practices at the team’s facility on Monday and Tuesday, Reynolds was one in a handful of non-rookies. He qualified for the early sessions because he lacks an accredited season of NFL experience. According to the NFL, playing on the practice squad doesn’t count.
“You do more work than anybody else on the field, but you don’t get to showcase it on Sundays,” he says. “That’s the hardest part, watching all your friends that you work with every day going out and playing. I’m not hitting my goal, which is to play. It’s a tough time for me, when you’re working your butt off and not seeing the results.”
He’s worked his butt off since 2011, when Seattle signed the undrafted running back out of the University of Montana, a hard-nosed player who stands 6-feet-tall and 200 pounds. When the Seawhawks cut him two weeks later, he bounced to St. Louis. Here, his run toward the roster has twice been tackled short of the goal line. He’s spent back-to-back seasons on the practice squad.
Reynolds, 25, doesn’t have bold predictions about forcing himself into the St. Louis backfield that is without Steven Jackson, but he does believe this year will be different.
“The job is partly open,” he says. “But you’ve got a few guys that you plug in right away.”
Instead he has a more realistic target in mind: special teams. Like his fellow Montana alum Colt Anderson, a Pro Bowl caliber special teams player with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, he feels punts, kicks and returns can punch his ticket to playing on Sundays this fall.
“My goal is to prove to them that I can play, and that I can be a special teams contributor,” he says. “I want to be a guy they can depend on.”
So far, so good. Reynolds says he ended organized team activities at No. 1 on the depth chart in multiple special teams positions, including personal protector on punts, along with assignments on kickoffs and kickoff returns.
When training camp truly starts Thursday, he will fight to stay atop the chart. That experience will be brand new.
“The last two years, I’ve been down at the bottom,” Reynolds says. “You knew right away it was going to be a grind. Now, I’m in a position where I’ve got to be beat out. That’s an obvious upside.”
Even a little light can mean a lot.
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