Cutdown day is looming, but Casey Cramer has no worries.
At least not anymore.
Like in years past, Cramer knows he must still fight to earn a spot on the Tennessee Titans’ 53-man roster.
But unlike previous seasons, Cramer won’t let the drudgery of wondering what his fate will be bother him this week with final cuts looming on Saturday.
“I’ve been a bubble guy ever since my rookie year, and it used to really drive me anxious,” Cramer said. “It was hard this time of year, just because you didn’t know what you were going to do and where you were going to be.”
Cramer has been the quintessential journeyman in his four-year NFL career, but has always found a way to somehow beat the odds and hang around on a roster — two seasons in Carolina, prefaced with a stint on the Titans’ practice squad, and two more in Nashville after the Panthers waived him in 2006.
“I was cut three times my rookie year. I’ve been cut five times total and it should have been a sixth, but because of a technicality, they couldn’t cut me. I was injured,” Cramer said. “So I’ve definitely grown accustomed to this time of year, and really just said, ‘This is out of my hands. God is going to take care of me,’ and just leave that anxiety out the door.”
With that approach, Cramer, a fullback/tight end/special teams player, has enjoyed this training camp much more so than the ones in years past.
“I’ve been able to enjoy this season much more with that. Whatever happens, I’ll be fine. I obviously have a lot of fun playing football, but I’ll be fine outside of football as well,” Cramer said.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher has come to appreciate what Cramer brings to a club with versatility and his now well-known reputation for keeping practices loose and enjoyable.
“He’s very consistent. He knows what to do and how to do it, and he has fun doing it,” Fisher said. “He’s a versatile player that you can plug in anywhere on special teams, and a number of different positions on offense. That’s why he’s been playing. He’s found a home here, and we appreciate everything he’s done and the things that are ahead.”
Despite Fisher’s praise, Cramer won’t take his time on a football field for granted, especially with cuts week coming.
“I’m 26, and it’s taken me five seasons to finally realize that, just appreciating opportunities and every game, and knowing that this is a gift,” Cramer said. “It’s not promised to you at all. And every game is like that, even during the season when you know you’re on a team. An injury can put you out for the rest of your life. Just enjoying it and going out and having fun and not worrying about that stuff has been a blast.”
Cramer is also well-prepared for life after football, should the dreaded Turk come one day asking for his playbook for the final time. He is a Dartmouth graduate who has taken advantage of the NFL’s Business Management and Entrepreneurial Programs the past four years.
And while it has him prepared for when life after football arrives, it has also taught him something else.
“I’m licensed to do brokerage stuff,” Cramer said. “All that stuff is fine, but I think what I realized in working on the education and jobs and internships is that I enjoy football so much more, and it makes me want to do better here while I’m playing, because the game is so much more fun than sitting behind a desk.”
ALREADY WATCHING: The Titans are already watching roster cuts from around the league with anticipation.
“We’re already anticipating roster cuts around the league, and we’ll do some things to try to predict those guys that may be out there,” Fisher said. “When we get the information, we look at it as quickly as we can, and we compare draft grades and their preseason production over the last couple of years and then make our decisions for the practice squad.”
LITTLE MOVE: When the first roster cuts to 75 are announced by Tuesday, the Titans will only have to cut four players. Running back Rafael Little, who has been rehabbing a torn ACL from Senior Bowl workouts in January, will be transferred from the non-football injury list to the active PUP (physically unable to perform) list, which will remove him from the active roster.
That moves gives Little six weeks of the regular season to rehab and the Titans three weeks after that to determine what to do with him.
INJURIES: A number of players did not practice Sunday, including kicker Rob Bironas (groin), cornerback Marquice Cole (leg), defensive back Chris Carr (shoulder), cornerback Cary Williams (quad), linebacker David Thornton (shoulder/rest), linebacker Jorge Cordova (hamstring), linebacker Keith Bulluck (calf), tackle David Stewart (knee), tight end Alge Crumpler (rest), receiver Lavelle Hawkins (ankle) and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (knee).
Fisher indicated that presently only Cary Williams has been ruled out for Thursday’s preseason finale in Green Bay.
UPS AND DOWNS: Quarterback Vince Young made several strong throws in practice, but also was intercepted four times, twice in 7-on-7 red zone drills and twice in a team period.