Kenny Peterson had only been out of the NFL for a month, but the ennui of lacking a team was already beginning to set in as he worked out on his own in Columbus, Ohio.
“I go from playing football my whole life, ever since I was six, to not playing,” the defensive lineman and newest Bronco said. “Sitting and watching on TV. You think about playing fantasy football, stuff like that. That’s the rough part.”
For most of us, fantasy football is as close as we’ll come to the real thing on the professional level. For Peterson, it was a fate to be avoided at all costs — at least for now, when he’s still only in his late 20s, his fourth year as a professional and, he hopes, with some more productive NFL seasons still in his future.
But after he suffered a sprained ankle in training camp, he had scant opportunity to impress his coaches at Green Bay Packers training camp this August, and found himself out of a job by Labor Day.
“I think it wasn’t so much my athletic ability … that caused my situation, I think it was more numbers and the fact that I was injured at the time,” Peterson said. “An opportunity lost is an opportunity gained.”
In the interim, Peterson said he’d had tryouts with Tampa Bay and Jacksonville and was on his way to Cleveland for another when the Broncos called. But he doesn’t know when he’ll see his first Broncos action.
“That’s up to the coaches. My first hurdle I’ve got to jump over is learning technology, learning the defense. Right now, I’ve got to learn from the neck up,” he said. “Once (the coaches) feel like they’re comfortable with me being out there and knowing the system and scheme and everything, they might throw me out there — you never know.”
But until then, he’ll simply work — and excercise patience, a virtue he learned in the last five weeks.
“I’m patient,” Peterson said. “Of course, I didn’t want to be sit there waiting week after week; I’m a competitor.”
The Broncos coaches also told Peterson he will line up at both tackle and end.
“I play wherever they put me,” he said.