It's a story Roc Carmichael has told several times this week, now that the NFL world knows a little bit more about it. He was a fourth-round draft pick by Houston in 2011 and figured that, despite a roster heavy at the time with talented cornerbacks, he would get his chance to shine.
In time, that is. He would have to wait for his turn, but that was OK. That was part of the NFL's ritual.
Truth is, Carmichael couldn't have been more wrong.
"Houston was a good team, with a talented roster, and I figured, 'OK, I'll wait. I'll get my turn.' It doesn't work that way," he said. "It never came around for me. I was cut and then put on the practice squad and that sent me a message."
The Eagles liked Carmichael enough that in September they plucked him from the Houston practice squad and added him to the 53-man roster, and Carmichael went right to work. His name appeared on the depth chart one day as a gunner for the scout team, working against the Eagles' starters, and Carmichael took his role seriously.
He quickly pushed his way up the ladder.
"Coach Chip (Kelly) said to me, 'You start by making some plays on special teams and then you work your way to the defense," said Carmichael. "That's what I did. It just felt right when I got here."
That's the path Carmichael has taken. He stood out as a gunner --Carmichael lines up wide on punts and fights through blocking to get down the field in coverage -- and had a few reps here and there at cornerback until last week when his front-and-center moment arrived.
Carmichael started on Sunday in Green Bay and he's in line to start against Washington should Bradley Fletcher (pectoral) not be ready to play. Carmichael has been a tenacious player who fights and scraps and claws and now has earned the trust of the coaching staff.
It's quite a difference from waiting for a chance to arrive.
"What Roc does is he competes, and I think that was very evident when we first got here just from how he was playing on special teams," said Kelly. "And then when you start to get him out there on one‑on‑ones and seven‑on‑seven in practice, you watch him continue to compete against DeSean (Jackson) and Riley (Cooper) and watching him make plays and seeing him to continue to develop.
"And I was really excited with how he played against Green Bay in his first start up there. And it helps. It helps because you're never going to make it through the season with everybody healthy. When we lost (Bradley Fletcher) Fletch to have a guy like Roc available to us, I think it was a great addition for us."
Should Carmichael start on Sunday, he's likely to see a lot of Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan, and Carmichael is familiar with both. Hankerson played at Miami, and so Carmichael at Virginia Tech made sure to know what kind of receiver he was and how to handle his size (6 feet 2) and strength. Morgan played at Virginia Tech and was a senior when Carmichael was a freshman, so practice was always a challenge.
"I have a lot of respect for both of them. I have a lot of respect for everyone in this league," said Carmichael. "Everyone is a great player. Leonard is a big guy and he's very physical. Josh was the man at Virginia Tech. He put me through the gauntlet in practice. He was the top dog and I was the young guy in practice, so I learned a lot. He does it all.
"For me, it's all about preparation and confidence. I've had a chance to improve a lot in practice and learning what the coaches are teaching me."
It's all about the here and now for Carmichael. He sees what he wants and he goes and gets it. That's the way it is in the NFL, as Carmichael has learned early in his career.
"Now, I know how it works. I'm so glad to have this chance here, and I'm doing everything I can to maximize the chance," said Carmichael. "Every day I'm out there getting after it and I love it."