The phone rang Monday morning. It was the Eagles asking Anthony Denham if he wanted to fly from Phoenix to Philadelphia for a workout.
“They called me at 10 o’clock in the morning and told me they had a flight at 10:30 p.m. if I was interested,” Denham said.
So Denham, who’s been out of football all summer, boarded the red-eye in Phoenix.
But he needed sleep before his important workout.
“I was in the bulkhead row, so I just stretched out on the floor and closed my eyes and got some sleep,” he said. “All the lights were out and I was wearing all black, so nobody saw me.”
Sufficiently rested, Denham arrived in Philly at 6 a.m. Tuesday, worked out for the Eagles, signed a contract and went out to practice wearing jersey No. 49.
Denham, 27, is in his sixth NFL season out of Utah. He’s bounced around the league but spent 2016 on the Eagles’ practice squad and last summer in Eagles training camp. So he knows the offense and is familiar with tight ends coach Justin Peelle.
With Richard Rodgers out indefinitely, the Eagles don’t have a proven third tight end behind Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
Or maybe they do.
“People were saying I did great today,” he said. “Tried to come in and surprise some people. Very excited about the opportunity.
“Imagine how it feels when you’re sitting home but you feel like you should be somewhere playing.”
Denham said he remembered most of the playbook despite being away from the Eagles since last Sept. 1.
“About 80 percent,” he said. “I went back there and didn’t make many mistakes and didn’t have any second thoughts about what I had to do when it was my time to pop on the field and run a play. I knew pretty much what I was doing.
“Wasn’t thinking too much. I turned (Peele’s) head. He was very surprised. He was like, ‘We haven’t even talked about that and you still remember it.’
“I went out there and had a great day and I have to keep doing that.”
The problem is final cuts are scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday. So Denham has just that one practice and one preseason game to prove he belongs.
“Even if this is the last game of my career, I want to go out with a bang,” he said. “If I don’t go out there and give it everything I have, then obviously I’m going to look back and have regrets.
"But if I go out there and bust tail, no regrets no matter what happens. And who knows. There are 31 other teams out there might see me and say, ‘Hey, we want to bring you in.’ Or maybe they won’t, but at least I know I gave it everything I had.
“Ertz told me, ‘You had a great day today. You came off the couch and did way more than anybody expected.’ He’s a Pro Bowler, so I’m going to listen to what he says and follow his lead and show up on Thursday.”
The Eagles face the Jets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Linc. Ertz won’t play and the rookie Goedert probably won’t either.
If Denham can pull this off, it would be a remarkable story.
“It’s a shot,” he said. “It’s like me having the ball with five seconds left. Am I going to pass it? Come on, no way. If I don’t pull it up from the three-point line or take a 17-footer, I’ll always regret it.
“I don’t know if it’s a long shot or a short shot, but it’s a shot and I’m going to take it.”