When one is an undrafted rookie and begins his NFL career on the practice squad, simply seeing some game action in that first season is accomplishment enough to deem that year a success on an individual level.
So it went for defensive tackle Antwon Burton, who was procured from the hundreds of undrafted players and from a Temple University football program that hasn’t even been to a bowl since 1979.
With such a humble background, it stood to reason that Burton would want to make an impression and play with some degree of aggression when training camp began last July. But what he showed during the first afternoon practice on July 28 was a little more than what Head Coach Mike Shanahan wanted.
During the session, Burton jumped offsides, kept moving and slammed Bradlee Van Pelt into the ground.
“I guarantee he won’t do it again,” Shanahan said that day. “I don’t think I’ve been around that since I’ve been in the NFL –a defensive lineman hitting the quarterback when he jumps offsides — but it just goes to show you that you have to review everything.”
Burton, however, spent the next week making amends. By the time the first depth chart was released on Aug. 7, he was running with the second team. That wasn’t enough to get him on the 53-man roster when training camp ended, but it did help him secure one of the eight practice-squad slots.
By Nov. 12, he was on the 53-man roster, and played at Oakland scarcely hours after he was officially moved off of the practice squad. It was to be the only game he would play, but in finishing the season with the Broncos, Burton earned himself precisely what so many first-year players crave most — a chance at a second.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Was one of four members of the 2006 practice squad to make it to the 53-man roster, along with Brian Clark, Damien Nash and Steve Cargile. All remained on the primary roster after their promotions … Ended the season with one assist.
NEXT: Safety Steve Cargile.