Making an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent is a mountain that’s tough to climb, but that’s exactly what Titans OLB Reggie Gilbert did in 2016 as a member of the Green Packers.
Gilbert spent two years as an on-again, off-again member of the Packers roster before being traded to the Titans last August. The deal was completed just as teams were tasked with finalizing their 53-man rosters. Just like that, Gilbert was on the move, and facing yet another challenge in what’s been a career that he’s poured his all into.
The Titans traded for Gilbert despite the chance the Packers were about to release him. Tennessee obviously liked him enough to part with a 2020 draft pick to ensure they secured his services before he could hit the open market.
Earlier this week, Gilbert joined his teammates for his second training camp in Nashville.
Gilbert plans to approach this training camp like the ones before it. He realizes that he has to fight for his roster spot, and will have to continue to improve and produce if he’s to make an impact in 2020 and beyond.
Gilbert recently spoke with Broadway Sports about the struggles of joining a new team on the cusp of a season, how working with outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen makes his job easy, and which Titan makes the worst travel partner.
He also reminisced on the career he’s had to fight for, and the challenges he’s had to overcome.
JM: You broke into the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2016 with the Packers. You spent two years on and off their roster up until 2018. What was your mindset like during that time?
RG: It was a challenging time. I definitely took the most difficult route to the league (laughs). Through hard work and my faith in God, everything worked itself out. I feel like the biggest thing that’s kept me going is that I genuinely enjoy developing my skills. Whether I was on the practice squad or the active roster, I used every opportunity to work on different aspects of my game. I always worked so that when my chance came, I was ready for it.
JM: You got your chance in 2018 when they elevated you to the active roster. You recorded a couple of sacks and started to get some real playing time. What was that experience like? It must have felt very rewarding.
RG: It was definitely very rewarding. I spent nearly two years on their practice squad, and they cut me and re-signed me multiple times during that period. I was able to get some really good work in during that time. We had an excellent offensive line in Green Bay so I really had to play my best football every single day. I was coming to work with the right attitude. I just went out there with a mindset that I had to get better. When my opportunity came in 2018, I feel like I took advantage.
JM: You then get traded to the Titans in late August last year. That was right around cut day. Changing teams for the first time in your career right before the season was about to start must have been difficult.
RG: It was crazy. Everything happened so fast. I had to get adjusted to a new locker room with a whole bunch of guys that I didn’t know. I was excited to begin a new chapter when I heard about the trade, though. It worked out for the best. We have a great locker room and coaching staff in Tennessee. I love the city of Nashville. I’m blessed to be in this locker room.
JM: How quickly did you get familiar and comfortable with the defense?