On Friday night, Bears tight end Daniel Brown turned on his alma mater’s season opener, kept his cell phone close and tried to distract himself from the anxiety of not knowing where he would be in 48 hours.
With Zach Miller, Dion Sims and Adam Shaheen all locked into roster spots, there was no guarantee the Bears would keep a fourth tight end. So Friday evening was, as Brown succinctly summed up, “long,” and he didn’t get a ton of sleep that night.
“You kind of hang everything on what you did hoping that it’s good enough and wondering if you’re going to be here this year, if you’re going to be somewhere else, if you’re going to be out of a job,” Brown said. “A lot of stuff goes in your mind, but it’s really out of your control because everything you’ve done up to that point is what you can control and then after that it’s out of your control.”
Brown felt confident in what he put on tape during training camp. A midseason waiver claim from the Baltimore Ravens last year, Brown profiles as a pass catching tight end — on a team that needs pass catching help after Cameron Meredith's injury — but he felt he improved his blocking skills over the last few weeks and months. His frequent inclusion on various special teams units strengthened his bid for a roster spot, too.
“If we’re going to keep four (tight ends), obviously the fourth man’s going to have to be a special teams guy,” Brown said. “And so knowing that, I kind of took advantage of it and really worked on it.”
The Bears held a meeting Saturday morning and announced every player in the room had made the team. Brown made that initial cut, along with Ben Braunecker, giving the Bears five tight ends on their first 53-man roster — and opening up another round of uncertainty with waiver claims and ensuing roster moves hitting on Sunday (Braunecker was waived on Sunday and re-signed to the practice squad Monday, and Brown remained on the roster).
“You can’t get too comfortable because the second wave of claims and cuts, you’re kind of on edge a little bit (Sunday) too,” Brown said. “But you just try to keep your mind occupied so you don’t overthink it.”
College football proved to be a good distraction. Brown watched Saturday's marquee Alabama-Florida State game, and on Friday flipped on ESPN3 on his laptop and watched James Madison — where played from 2010-2014 — beat East Carolina, 34-14. It was one of five FCS upsets of FBS schools in college football's first full slate of games.