Tampa, FL -- Linebacker Ryan Rau figured he would have this weekend to get set up in the new apartment that he just moved into. Well, the Eagles changed his plans on Saturday morning. Rau was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man active roster after guard Nate Menkin was placed on Injured Reserve with a throat injury.
"I was a little caught off-guard because it happened so late. It was right before our Saturday walkthrough. By that time of the week, you don't expect something like that to happen," Rau said at the team hotel in Tampa Bay. "I was definitely excited. I got a call from my agent (Ty Barnes). I couldn't really believe it at first. I'm just really happy and proud of the opportunity that I have right now."
Rau had very little time to pack as the team had to be at the airport just an hour after the walkthrough. Rau sent a mass text message to friends and family and after the plane touched down his phone erupted with all of the well-wishes from his supporters.
The tale of Rau's road to the active roster is a remarkable one considering he wasn't even signed by a team following the draft as a free agent. The 6-1, 230-pound linebacker from Portland State was invited by the Eagles to tryout during the rookie mini-camp. He impressed the team enough to earn a spot on the roster for Training Camp. When linebackers Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews were injured at Lehigh, Rau had a chance to play as the second-string middle linebacker.
In the preseason, Rau had 10 tackles on defense and another three on special teams. Rau even helped force a fumble in the Week 3 preseason game against the Browns. His play was good enough to earn a spot on the team's practice squad. Don't tell Rau that the preseason games are unimportant.
"The tape says everything. That fact that I had a pretty good preseason gave them some confidence in the decision they made today," Rau said. "Preseason is huge."
Once on the practice squad, Rau continued to work knowing he was going to do everything he could to make the team better.
"When it came to scout team, every week I had the mindset that I was going to go as hard as I could and leave everything on the field," Rau said. "I knew that it would make my teammates better."
On Sunday, Rau's dream of making it to the NFL will truly be realized in Tampa Bay.
"It's amazing," Rau said. "It goes to show that if you work hard and put your mind to something and put your nose down and keep grinding good things will happen."
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