More than a year had passed since his last professional football game, but Loyce Means never lost hope.
Even when things were quiet, the 5-foot-10, 188-pound cornerback kept training for another shot at the NFL after originally going to camp with the Buffalo Bills in 2011.
Following a recent workout with the Green Bay Packers, that wait is finally over.
According to his agent Rob Sheets, Means caught the eye of Packers senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith during a chance encounter in Memphis, Tenn. A week later, Means worked out for Highsmith where he clocked a 4.34-second time in the 40-yard dash en route to signing with the team on Tuesday.
Means has been out of football since playing the last four games of the 2011 season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. Since Hamilton opted not to retain him, Means has been splitting his time between working a job in retail and training for his next opportunity.
Over that time, Means has added more than 10 pounds to his frame since weighing in at 177 during his Houston Pro Day two years ago.
“To his credit, he was getting up at 4:30 a.m. and working out till 10 at night,” said Sheets, who's represented him since he first signed with Buffalo. “To tell you how good of a kid he is, he could’ve come back from Green Bay after signing the contract and had a big head and walked away, but he gave them a two week notice, so he’s still working.”
Means appeared in 38 games during his career at Houston from 2007-2010 with 85 tackles (53 solo), eight interceptions, 21 pass deflections and two touchdowns. He’s also dabbled as a returner, but only on a limited basis.
While the Packers had significant talks with free-agent running back Steven Jackson, Means and kicker Giorgio Tavecchio represent the only free-agent signings the Packers have had this offseason.
-firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.