LATROBE, Pa. - When it was announced that the Steelers and Buffalo Bills would hold joint practices at Saint Vincent College during training camp this summer, many fans circled the dates on their calendars, planning a few vacation days to watch the action.
They weren't the only ones who circled the dates. Steelers' first-year safety Jordan Dangerfield circled them too, looking forward to the opportunity to practice against the team that released him after training camp a year ago.
"I'm going to have a chip on my shoulder all week," said Dangerfield, who is also looking forward to playing against the Bills on Saturday night at Heinz Field. "I had it circled once they said they were going to have all of the practices. I had it circled."
Dangerfield originally signed with the Bills as an undrafted rookie free agent in April, 2013 out of Towson University. He was with them through training camp, before being released on Aug. 30 and finding himself out of football for the rest of the year.
"It was painful," said Dangerfield. "Last year I went the whole season without playing football and it hurt me deep down inside. I can't even describe it. It hurt me deep down inside to be watching football every Sunday knowing I could be out there. I am blessed to be out here now making the most of the opportunity."
While he watched, he never gave up his dream to play. Dangerfield worked out five days a week, twice a day. He would run every morning, lift weights in the evening, all the while watching the waiver wire, seeing if a team was looking for a safety.
"Me and my agent were on top of that," said Dangerfield.
"He was reaching out to teams and teams were giving him feedback telling him they have me on their list, but at the end of the day it's a business and it was numbers game. I was waiting patiently."
The wait went on and on. It wasn't until after the regular season had ended that Dangerfield finally got the call he had been waiting for. It came from the Steelers, wanting him to come in for a workout and eventually being signed to a futures contract.
"My agent texted me on January 10 and said the Steelers are getting ready to call you so make sure you are up," said Dangerfield. "I got up, spoke to them and they told me they were going to bring me in for a workout. They asked me if I was ready and I told them I was waiting for this opportunity for a while. I was blessed when I got the call from the Steelers.
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steeler's 13th day of Training Camp.
"I made the most of it. I was prepared. Technically I prepared four and a half months for that one workout. I made the most of it. I was happy they signed me."
Dangerfield saw his first game action for the Steelers against the Giants, finishing with four tackles and two special teams tackles. He knows he has to continue to make plays during the preseason and in practice, on defense and special teams, to show that it's his turn to stick around.
"It felt great," said Dangerfield of the Giants game. "It was a blessing. I had been waiting a long time to get back out there and have fun and play the game I play.
"I am just blessed for this opportunity and I am trying to make the most of it. I am learning from the older guys, they are teaching me the simple things, where to come down to, where to rotate to. I am thankful to have them helping me out and I am going to make the most of it."