When the Seattle Seahawks staff told wide receiver Penny Hart to come get a pay raise following Monday’s practice, he had no clue he was being promoted to the 53-man roster.
“It kind of caught me by surprise,” Hart said during Wednesday's availability. “But you know, I worked for this. I prepared for this and I’m ready whenever my number is called.”
The following day, the Seahawks made a surprising move to waive former seventh-round pick John Ursua to make room on the roster for Hart. Ursua cleared waivers and re-signed to Seattle's practice squad on Wednesday.
"We're really excited about Penny [Hart] getting a chance to be on the roster," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We love Johnny [Ursua] too. It just was - there's concerns going through the final releases and stuff like that and it just turned out this way."
It’s been an arduous journey for Hart to get to the Seahawks 53-man roster. Hart, who went undrafted out of Georgia State, joined the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent in 2019. He began his NFL career with the Colts on Injured Reserve, then was later waived with an injury settlement.
After he returned home, an opportunity to join Seattle’s practice squad presented itself.
“It put a lot of things into perspective,” Hart said. “This program gave me an opportunity on a tryout and coming here doing what I had to do, going to practice squad, and then, with everything going on right now, having the opportunities that I did. This staff giving me an opportunity to go out there and show what I got in practice with no preseason games, it made it that much more meaningful to me for them to be able to give me the opportunity to be on 53...
Hart had a stellar career at Georgia State, catching 203 passes for 2,960 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also took home All-Sun Belt honors on two occasions. While Hart played some slot with the Panthers, he made it clear he’s comfortable at any receiver position.
“I play everywhere,” Hart said. “A lot of people try to label me as a slot, but I haven’t played slot receiver since my freshman year of college. So, ever since then, I’ve been playing outside, playing a little running back, been playing a little bit of slot, I do just about everything...
The 24-year-old first joined the Seahawks as a member of the practice squad midway through the 2019 season. He signed a reserve/future contract in January. But despite an impressive training camp, he was part of the initial roster cuts Saturday.
Hart re-signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers, that is, before Monday's practice concluded. Now, Hart is seizing the opportunity to prove to the Seahawks that the 53-man roster is where he deserves to be.
“I worked my butt off to get here, and I have a long way to go,” Hart said. “But it’s constantly putting myself in position, continuing every single day no matter how many mistakes that I might make or how I feel about myself, just continuing to wake up and remind myself of who I am and the type of player I am. And knowing that I’m worthy of being here and I’m worthy of making the plays anytime that my number is called.”
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