Sunday I wrote a story about Malik Reed and the whirlwind experience he had when being traded from the Denver Broncos to the Pittsburgh Steelers. There certainly is a sense of shock when you get a call saying the team you just practiced with has traded you to an AFC competitor.
A noteworthy story, but what might be an even sweeter story for the Steelers is that of Jaylen Warren, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Oklahoma State. Warren turned a stellar training camp and preseason into a spot on the 53-man roster.
But that didn’t mean Warren wasn’t nervous as the 4pm ET deadline came on Tuesday wondering if his name was going to be called as a roster cut.
“I was keeping my head on a swivel, hoping nobody came up to me and asked me for my iPad,” admitted Warren.
It wasn’t until the roster cut deadline came and went that he was finally able to breathe.
“When it hit four, when it hit four o’clock,” said Warren. “I was relieved. But I still have work to do.”
Warren had family and friends reaching out prior to the 4pm deadline, and it mad sure to remind them he hadn’t made anything yet.
“As soon as it four,” said Warren of when he called. “People were congratulating me at 3:55. I was like I still have five minutes. I was over there hiding in the corner.
“It was like a dream came true. That is what I was working for, and it finally happened. It was like a moment of silence. I was too shocked to react to anything. I called my family and said I really made it. It’s true, I made it.”
For Warren, and so many players like him who are considered long shots to make NFL rosters, entering the organization is not something to take lightly. In fact, Warren still has to pinch himself whenever he enters the Steelers facility.
“Every day I come to the Steelers facility I see the Steelers logo and I am like, really. I am going to the Steelers facility,” said Warren. “I still get the same high from the first time I walked in here.
“It’s still surreal at this point. I feel like I have to tone it down, still be focused. I can’t be too hyped, too star struck. I’ve got to control it and realize I am playing the game I have been playing since I was eight.”
Warren might feel as if he is the new guy, but the question of whether he belongs should have been answered now. In fact, the Steelers official Week 1 depth chart has Warren as the backup to Najee Harris, ahead of Benny Snell Jr.
It may be hard for some to fathom, but Warren very well could be called upon in spot duty in 2022, and the question of whether or not he’ll be ready won’t be answered until he steps on the field during a regular season game. If the preseason is any indicator, Warren will be ready when called upon, and it will continue one heck of a story for the undrafted rookie.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Week 1 game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio.