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Steelers Terence Garvin hits a trifecta

The undrafted rookie went from roster cut to roster addition, including a brief layover in Practice Squad Land, highlighting an eventful 72 hours.

Rob Carr

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin hit the trifecta this week and yes, there was money involved.

No, Garvin didn't place a bet, but his three transactions in some 72 hours quickly moved him from being unemployed and increased his salary with each move. Garvin, a 6-foot-3, 221-pound undrafted rookie free agent from West Virginia, originally was released Saturday when the Steelers reduced their roster to the final, 53-man limit.

But that wasn't the end of the line for Garvin, who was signed at a reduced salary to the practice squad Sunday. However, he was signed to the 53-man roster Tuesday when tight end Matt Spaeth was placed on the Reserve-Injured, Designated to Return List. He will make the NFL rookie minimum of $405,000.

"(Saturday) was kind of a nerve-racking day,'' Garvin said. "At first, you're like, I don't really know what's going to happen. You don't know what's happening, so you're just sitting there trying to keep your spirits up.

"You pray a little bit, talk to your parents, and that provides you with some support. Then, when you find out the news, you can really accept it, whatever it is. And you deal with it, whatever you've got to do. You know what I mean.''

Lots of undrafted free agents on the Steelers, including five starters, such as Ramon Foster, Will Johnson, Isaac Redman, Ryan Clark and Steve McLendon. On the practice squad, at least initially with Garvin, is another undrafted rookie free agent.

"I was in my room, sitting there talking with Alan Baxter (from Northern Illinois), and my parents were calling me all day trying to find out what was going on,'' Garvin said. "Everybody was calling, wondering what was going on, asking me if I was going to be all right.

"You really don't want your phone to ring, because you don't know how you feel. You've just got to keep your spirits up, stay prayed up and keep doing whatever it is to keep you going, because you don't know what's going to happen. So, you need to do what you have to do to stay up, because you need to live with yourself and have no regrets.''

Garvin's route to the NFL was more circuitous than most. Unlike Baxter, the Steelers did not immediately sign him after the annual NFL Draft this past spring. Instead, he received a rookie mini-camp tryout, along with several other players from area colleges, with an opportunity to impress the Steelers coaching staff.

Garvin clearly did that, because he was signed to the Steelers spring roster shortly after the rookie camp and began working out with the team during OTAs and the regular mini-camp. There were eight players brought in for the tryout, but Garvin was the only one who was signed. He also joined the Steelers for training camp at the end of July.

The long odds that he beat to get to camp increased, as the Steelers were loaded at inside linebacker with Stevenson Sylvester, Marshall McFadden, Brian Rolle, Kion Wilson and Vince Williams behind starters Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons. Williams and Wilson made the 53-man roster initially, and now Garvin is in the mix as well.

Ironically, Sylvester, McFadden and Rolle, the more experienced players, were jettisoned. Wilson, Williams and now Garvin were given a shot. Three long shots that paid off. Former WVU teammate Johnson has been someone for Garvin to talk with and emulate.

"Will Johnson, he was an undrafted rookie free agent, and he went to West Virginia,'' Garvin said. "I talked with him every day, because there's a lot of mental things that go with it. You've got to keep your spirits high and keep yourself going every day. The first thing is to be physical.

"You've got to come to play every day and be physical. (So), I just really try to come out and work hard every day. I go hard every day to try to get better and learn a little bit more. If you can catch someone's eye, show them what you can do, you never know what will happen.

"I try to stay healthy, as healthy as possible, because the coaches always say that you can't make the team if you're hurt,'' Garvin added. "That's why I try to stay healthy. (And) And you need to do all the right things. Coach tells us not to be that guy, so I work hard to not be that guy.''

But wouldn't you know it. Garvin eventually became that guy, the one who beat the longest of odds to make it in the NFL.

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