Allen Park — Tion Green cannot remember experiencing the anxiety he felt on Saturday.
Like many of his teammates, the exuberant running back sat by his phone all morning and afternoon, waiting for the dreaded call that would let him know he was being cut.
The Detroit Lions rookie watched as teammate after teammate were informed they needed to come to the practice facility and turn in their stuff, including his offseason roommate, wide receiver Dez Stewart. Green also had to ward off calls from his mother, Leticia Strickland, who was scouring search engines and social media for any morsel of information regarding her son’s fate.
“Every time the phone rung, I’m getting nervous,” Green said. “I’m like, ‘Momma, you can’t keep calling me. Especially from 3-4 p.m., you can’t call me.’”
A few minutes before the deadline, when reality started to set in that he might make team, Green phoned Ameer Abdullah, the team’s starting running back who has embraced his role as the leader of the position group’s room.
Abdullah told the rookie to calm down and offered to pick him up. That’s about when the text came in, the week’s schedule sent to those still on the roster. Green was in.
“It feels great to be here — a good, humbling experience,” he said. “It lets people know never give up on your dreams. Follow your dreams. Look at me, I didn’t have the best senior year in the world. I was never a frickin’ 1,000-yard back in college, never. Didn’t get a combine invite. They said I ran a 4.7 40(-yard dash).
“It shows you can preserve through anything with hard work and dedication,” Green said. “I’m just testimony and living proof of never giving up on your dreams, keep working hard and believe in yourself and anything is possible.”
Green wasn’t the only one on the roster bubble Saturday who got good news, but not everyone experienced the day the same way.
Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, a veteran who has been through the emotional wringer of cut day a handful of times, spent the day with his family, trying to ignore the looming front office decision in the battle between him and Jace Billingsley.
As a veteran, Abbrederis also realized making the team is one small battle in an ongoing war.
“Even if you make it the first day, you’re never really guaranteed until the end of the season,” he said. “You take that approach every day and attack it. You’re never done competing.”
Safety Charles Washington, an undrafted rookie who spent season on the practice squad and got one of the longer looks of any Lions player this preseason, was confident his offseason showing would bring good news.
“I was uncertain, but I was confident,” Washington said. “I had faith what I did through preseason, training camp and OTAs that it would carry over and get me a roster spot.”
Both Green and Washington made their marks on special teams. The two had a friendly competition throughout the preseason, seeing who could rack up the most tackles on the units. Washington ended up edging Green out with three stops in the preseason finale.
“I knew that was my ticket,” Washington said. “If I didn’t do well on special teams, my chances of making this team would be out the window. It’s something I take pride in. I love special teams. It’s just you against another guy, who is the bigger dog? It’s a mindset — I’m not the biggest, I’m not the fastest, but I feel like from a mindset-perspective, I’m the best.”
When Green learned he made the team, he was jubilant. He called mom immediately. Washington’s reaction was the opposite.
“It was numb and surreal,” Washington said. “My mother called me and told me I didn’t sound too excited. It was surreal. I just had to let it sink in.”