Even before last week, Jayrone Elliott's past few months had followed a storybook script.
An undrafted rookie from Toledo, Elliott started Green Bay Packers training camp with little fanfare. He ended it on the 53-man roster, surviving one of the deepest positions on the depth chart at outside linebacker.
Last week, his journey hit another level.
Elliott's first game came at Detroit, less than an hour from his college campus in Toledo. It might not have been Lambeau Field, but this Packer felt right at home.
Elliott spoke with Press-Gazette Media this week about the thrills of making the roster, his experience in Detroit and how he wants to build on it.
Any time you get activated for the first time, it's special. But being in Detroit, less than an hour from where you played at Toledo, how cool was that?
Elliott: It was very cool. At the same time, I wish the guys could've come up to watch me — because it's only 45 minutes away — but they had a late win that night. They ended up beating Ball State, and they had meetings the next day. So I was kind of bummed they couldn't get up there, but at the same time, I was happy those guys got the win. I was thinking it was time for us to go set the tone.
How did you do in your first game?
Elliott: To go out there, for my first time, I would say I had a C, C-minus performance. I let my emotions get the best of me for the first half. It took me the whole half to settle down and finally be able to go out there and do my keys and make my adjustments. I have to handle my emotions a lot better, go out there and play without my emotions for the whole game, and make plays.
When you say you let your emotions get the best of you, what do you mean?
Elliott: Well, being undrafted, you play the preseason games, but it's another step once the regular season starts. It's the best of the best. So you go out there, and I was too hyped. I ran down on kickoff, I was so hyped I ran down there and just fell. I took myself out of the play. So I've got to be able to control my emotions and make plays when I have a chance.
How many family members did you have in the stands?
Elliott: My brother, he didn't get to make it up there for the game. He's actually a coach in high school right now, so he has his responsibilities. But I had my son come up and watch me for my first game, my girlfriend, her sisters, and my mom and grandma and sister came up as well.
What has this experience been like for you?
Elliott: It's been a very emotional process. At the same time, Toledo might not be like an Alabama-type school, but we really hone in on our technique there. I carried a lot of that over here to this organization, as far as special teams, getting back on kickoff return, getting your blocks. We go over a lot of technique over there. So, that's one thing that really helped me. I carried it over, and I feel like I've got an advantage over some guys.
Does it feel like you're kind of carrying that banner for Toledo?
Elliott: Definitely. There's only a couple MAC guys in here, so you've got to definitely rep the MAC. At the same time, I'm repping Toledo because people didn't really think I'd be at this point that I'm at right now. That's one thing that drives me every day. To know I'm a role model back at Toledo, that's one thing that keeps me motivated as well. Just go out there and compete every day.
Can you describe that feeling when you found out you made the roster?
Elliott: I mean, I was kind of excited, but at the same time I was like, 'OK, cool, let's get ready for Seattle.' You have no time to sit back and enjoy it, because it'll fly right by you. Maybe I'll look back in the offseason and be like, 'Wow, I made the team. Now I've got to go make the team again.' I don't really try to feel myself too much. There's too much going on right now.
You never want to see a guy get injured, obviously. Andy Mulumba tearing his ACL, how do you approach the opportunity you have now?
Elliott: Yeah, I was going to be at night dreaming, waiting for my opportunity. But I'd never wish an injury upon no one. It was just a crushing injury for Andy Mulumba. As I've stated before, Andy has been probably the No. 1 guy that's helped me since I've been here. He's helped me out a lot. I look to him as a big brother. He's very influential, and I really respect him a lot. Before the Detroit game, he was the one guy who texted me, told me to go out there and have fun. He told me to play fast and think slow, go out there and attack my keys. That really helped me settle down. I really appreciated what Andy does for me.
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