In the end, it’s usually a single line of type in a newspaper, a note at the bottom of the story, a move few notice: A practice squad player getting elevated to the active roster. This time of year, it’s not uncommon although usually it makes little impact on the field.
But for the player who is promoted, this is his whole world. Linebacker Curtis Gatewood got that news this week, a promotion in part because Joey Porter’s injury means the probable need for an extra ‘backer against the Cowboys.
“It’s a rush, literally and figuratively,” Gatewood said. “Something I have been waiting for my whole career. To actually be on a roster says a lot and it is humbling to me. It’s exciting, so many emotions. Ultimately, that’s the goal, to be on a 53-man roster.”
It’s not like this is brand-new for Gatewood. As a rookie out of Vanderbilt, he appeared in six games for Kansas City in 2008. That was after spending time with the Redskins as an undrafted free agent. Post-Chiefs, Gatewood has spent time with the Lions, Eagles, Steelers, Redskins (where he was briefly on the 53-man roster, but inactive for all three games) and then the Cardinals – twice.
Sitting on the practice squad most of that time, Gatewood was anonymous, just like many practice-squad inhabitants. Some are a little more well-known, the rookies who stuck around after training camp and received some publicity. Guys like Gatewood, though, come in later and float well under the radar – both with the team and outside it.
“It’s a very tough role for a free-agent guy, an uphill battle,” Gatewood said. “But to be on a practice squad and for them to have confidence to bring you up, it means a lot in my world.”
In this case, it’s Gatewood’s own Christmas miracle. A chance to play Saturday on national TV against the Cowboys, and a big bump in pay, at least for a week – his salary jumped from $5,200 a week to about $23,000.
“My girlfriend did ask for an upgrade in her gift for Christmas,” Gatewood said with a smile. “I am assuming my Mom will be next.”
Tags: Curtis Gatewood, Joey Porter, practice squad
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