Deon Cain has been through the grind of trying to make an NFL roster before. This time, it just feels different.
Of course, Cain is trying to reserve a spot in the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver room. One of the deepest position battles in training camp, the Eagles have their roster locks in A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Zach Pascal. After that, there's four players batting for one spot -- potentially two.
Thanks to Cain, the Eagles have to consider keeping six receivers on the roster. Cain led Philadelphia with five catches for 66 yards in Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns, showcasing excellent concentration on balls thrown in his direction and tracking the ball well in the air.
The Eagles are looking to fill a roster spot at wide receiver. Cain is playing his way toward snatching one.
"I just get more opportunities now and that is all I can say," Cain said. "The opportunity to have my own way and I am just trying to make the most of them. That is all I can do. I have been working so hard for these opportunities and I am just trying to make the most of them."
Cain has been impressive throughout camp, working consistently with the second and third team and becoming a reliable option for Gardner Minshew and Reid Sinnett. The contested catches don't show up on the box score, but showcases how Cain can be beneficial in the Eagles' offense.
Perhaps the Eagles need another veteran receiver in the mix, one who has battled for every snap he's earned since entering the league in 2019.
"That is obviously what I have been called to do here," Cain said. "I mean, you cannot really just go out here thinking about competition because we are in a great competitive room. Everybody is going to do what they got to do. I am just making sure I am handling my own and doing my job."
After stints with the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers, Cain signed with the Eagles' practice squad last October. The journey with the Eagles has been an interesting one, as Cain suffered an ACL injury in his rookie year in Indianapolis -- ending his season before ever taking a regular season snap.
Cain was released twice by the Colts before the Steelers claimed him, spending the majority of his tenure there on the practice squad. The Baltimore Ravens gave Cain a shot last summer, but placed him on injured reserve at the end of training camp then released him. The Eagles picked him up in October and Cain has been working the last 10 months trying to earn a roster spot.
"Me and Deon had a lot of experience on the scout team last year. He is a guy I have a ton of confidence in," Minshew said. "Being able to do that in a game situation has been so much fun. I'm happy for him."
If Minshew has a voice in the room, Cain would certainly have a roster spot. Minshew has seen firsthand what Cain can do when given the opportunity, making it all the less surprising Cain is performing well.
"I think he plays the ball really low in the air. You put it in the right spot, you can trust him to hold the guy off and make the play," Minshew said. "I am always looking for him when he is out there."