Nerve-wracking. But in the end, satisfying.
That's how one could describe Christian Jones' Saturday. The undrafted free agent out of Florida State never got the call on Aug. 30 from the Bears to come to Halas Hall with his playbook. Then he sat back and watched his alma mater struggle, but survive, against Oklahoma State while opening defense of its national title.
And as he walked off the Halas Hall fields Monday after earning a spot on the 53-man roster along with two other undrafted rookies and all eight 2014 draft picks, it was hard to wipe the smile off his face.
"Throughout the whole process I felt I did a lot of good things and felt I had a good shot at making the team," Jones said. "But in a situation like this it always comes down to a numbers game, so I wasn't quite sure what was gonna happen. But it was great to see my name on the '53' roster."
The three-year starter at FSU was projected by some to be a middle-round draft pick. But his stock dropped after a diluted urine sample at the Scouting Combine, raising suspicions about his reasoning and commitment, especially when he knew a drug test would be a part of the process. After his stock dropped out of the draft, Bears general manager Phil Emery took a flyer on the physical specimen, whose father Willie played for the Seminoles at the same time as current Bears linebacker coach Reggie Herring.
"It's real satisfying. Coming into the draft I thought I'd get picked up, get drafted by some team and I slipped a bit. I'm just fortunate to be here. I give God all the glory. Without him I wouldn't be here, so I'm just taking it all in right now," Jones continued. "My family's happy, I'm happy, it's just great. Now I just have to continue working and getting better. That's what it's all about. I don't want to be a guy that's just sticking around, I want to keep getting better and improve and do whatever I can to help this team win."
Behind Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Jonathan Bostic and Shea McClellin, it's just Jones and second-year man Khaseem Greene on the linebacker depth chart. With Jones working inside almost exclusively during the preseason, he'll be a sponge with Herring and his veteran mentors and plans on growing into a reliable performer on the special teams units that struggled during the preseason.
"You've got guys who've been around 10-plus years — Lance, D.J. With those guys I can just soak up the knowledge that they have and they've done a great job of helping me and DeDe (fellow rookie DeDe Lattimore, who was signed to the practice squad after being cut Saturday). I feel with them, I can really grow and one day develop into the linebacker I know I can be. And I'm gonna do whatever I can to help the team in that area (special teams), whether it's kickoff, punt, kickoff return, it's all of them. I'm gonna give my all for it."