The irony is that the dude seems to be catching everything in sight these days but a stinking break. Some two weeks have passed since the latest viral grab, and the hands, as always, are willing.
It’s Jordan Westerkamp’s blankety-blank right hamstring that decided it was a good idea to take a vacation in May.
“Yeah, it’s tough,” the former Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver told Land of 10. “At Cleveland, I gave 100 percent and gave everything I had. Yeah, the way things are going, it’s tough. I’m not going to let it keep me down.”
It’s not that Westy isn’t running well for teams. It’s that he hasn’t been running for anybody since a tweaked hammy cut short a strong start at the Cleveland Browns’ rookie minicamp after one just day.
“We did have a whole lot of receivers there and we were getting a ton of reps,” Westerkamp said from his native Chicago, where he’s been recovering, rehabbing and recharging the batteries since the Browns’ minicamp wrapped on May 14. “Just toward the end of practice, I’d been busting my tail and going all out. I was a little fatigued and running a reverse and did a little pitter-patter, and I felt it get tight a little bit.”
The good news? No. 1 is about a week from running at full speed, a week from “being 100 percent healthy.”
The bad? In the spring, with organized team activities making NFL rosters a revolving door, every week is precious to an undrafted free agent. Every week and every window.
‘Good things happen to people who work hard. I’m a firm believer in that.’
— Former Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
“It’s tough. It’s extremely tough,” said Westerkamp, who finished his tenure with the Big Red with the second-most catches (167) in Huskers history despite seeing a senior season end prematurely in December with a meniscus tear in his left knee. “You could do extremely well and have them say, ‘We don’t have the numbers right now.’”
Which is more or less how the story played out in Tampa at the start of the month, despite a one-handed snag at the Buccaneers’ rookie minicamp that had Twitter swooning and Nebraska fans saying, “Told ya”:
— Adam Carriker (@AdamCarriker94) May 8, 2017
“I went there and did extremely well, kicked butt, had a really good camp, but unfortunately, there was a numbers deal,” Westerkamp recalled. “The general manager (Jason Licht, a Nebraska native and former Huskers player himself) told me I’m on a priority list, I’ll be one of the first people they’ll call.”
When you’re hanging your hat on a hypothetical, the silence from a cellphone can be deafening, the rearview mirror an albatross. So Westerkamp is focused on the now and the next, running at a nearby college, picking the pace back up day by day.
“You’ve got to keep on trucking,” Westerkamp said.
“If you work hard — good things happen to people who work hard. I’m a firm believer in that.”
Speaking of firm believers …
— Robert Haumont (@RobertHaumont) April 27, 2017
— Neal (@rnealgolden) April 29, 2017
“They’re unbelievable, the best fans in college football,” Westerkamp said of Big Red Nation. “I still get fan mail — every time I go back to Nebraska, there are a couple letters there.
“There’s no easy road. I understand that. I knew, because of those injuries toward the end of my senior year, it would greatly affect where I was drafted, because a lot of teams want to see me in person. So I understand it’s a tough road. But it if was easy, everyone would be doing it.
“Obviously, I wanted to work out and be able to play. And it won’t take much longer to get on a roster, but if it takes longer than expected, so be it. I’m going to do everything I can. My dream is to play in the NFL and I know I’ll have my opportunity. It could be 10 days. It could be two months. It could be a year. I know I’ll get that opportunity and I know I’ll make it work.”
If it’s thrown within his reach, No. 1’s going to haul that bad boy in. Same as it ever was.
“Stay in shape now, keep getting after it,” Westerkamp said. “Unfortunately, things haven’t gone as perfectly as I’d like them to. I’ll make for a great story when it’s said and done.”