NFL cutdown day doesn’t faze former CFL receiver Reggie Begelton.
By Saturday, September 5 at 4 PM ET, NFL teams must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 53 players. Nerves or worry haven’t even crossed the mind of the 27-year-old receiver.
“From day one I realized that I can actually play and it gave me a lot of confidence. Given the opportunity I stick, you’ll see a lot more changes in me being more confident in the system. If I don’t stick, worst case scenario, it’s back to the drawing board. I’m focused on being here to stay,” Begelton said.
When the Green Bay Packers signed Begelton in January he received a $7,000 signing bonuses and $7,000 of his salary was guaranteed. That’s a small boost of confidence from an NFL franchise. The Packers didn’t select a receiver in 2020 NFL draft. Veteran Devin Funchess inked a deal in free agency, but he opted out of the season due to COVID-19, which presented an even larger opportunity for Begelton.
“The fact that I really didn’t have an off-season program, where I was actually doing the things like OTAs (organized training activities) and mini-camps, I already came in at a disadvantage. But you can’t use that as an excuse. You have to come in and you have to put in the work,” Begelton said.
“Everything is a lot quicker because the spaces are reduced. However, at the end of the day, it’s still football. It’s all about how much studying and how technical are you when it comes to doing your drills and being a professional athlete.”
Begelton’s been learning from one of the best in the NFL in Davante Adams. He’s been to the Pro Bowl three straight years and is Aaron Rodgers’ favourite target. Adams has ascended into the elite level of pass catchers at the pro level and Begelton is extracting all the information possible.
“I have asked Davante multiple questions, he even told me don’t be afraid to annoy him. I know that it can get a little tedious, but that’s what you have to do: you have to surround yourself with success if you want to be successful,” Begelton said.
“I’m trying to pick up the little tidbits, intricate details about being a great player. A lot of football is acting and Davante does that very well. That’s one of the things I need to put in my game more is the acting part.”
Coming out of Westbrook High School in Beaumont, Texas, Begelton thought he would be acting as a “regular person” and working towards a job at one of the chemical plants in town. That was until Begelton decided to walk-on to the Lamar University football team. He left on full scholarship as the most prolific receiver in program history.
“I liked football, and maybe I could go out there and have some fun while I’m getting my degree. It turned out that I actually did pretty good and I could go further. That dream was still alive once I got to my redshirt sophomore year,” Begelton said.
Begelton ended his NCAA career with 227 receptions for 2,435 yards and 20 touchdowns. He went unselected in the 2016 NFL draft and, despite attending rookie mini-camps with the Falcons and Raiders, no contract came from either franchise.
The led Begelton to Canada to continue his career. He improved every year with the Calgary Stampeders. In the final season of his three-year contract, finished the regular season second in the CFL with 102 receptions and third in both receiving yards (1,444) and receiving touchdowns (10). Begleton earned CFL all-star status and worked out for seven NFL teams in December.
“It’s truly a blessing for me, it’s a great opportunity. I’m just having fun with it. No matter what happens at the end of the day, I can always say that I had the opportunity and that’s all I have ever asked for,” Begelton said.
“I want to put myself in the best position possible to succeed. I’m going to wake up in the morning and be like, ‘It’s a good day to play football.’ And I’m going to go out there and give it my best.”
Begelton is learning a new offence and what Aaron Rodgers likes out of his pass catchers, which could be the key to making the roster and increasing playing time. That’s because the six-foot-two, 205-pound Begelton doesn’t have pre-season games to be able to show what he can do when the bright lights come on.
“I need to be able to be comfortable with the offence that I’m in, soak in all the details, and go out there and play fast. Once I’m able to play fast, I can be really dangerous and I truly believe that. When you can go out there and not think and just play football, that’s the best feeling in the world,” Begelton said.
That’s the mentality Begelton employs when lining up against the top Packers’ cover men in Jaire Alexander and Kevin King. Daily matchups with the former first and second-round picks who are fleet-footed and experienced can prepare Begelton for opposing No. 1 cornerbacks.
“Going out there and doing it right against top tier defensive backs, I just have to know it’s just football, it doesn’t matter who is out there. They are players, I’m a player, you can’t be defeated before you line up,” Begelton said.
“It doesn’t matter who is out there, you just know that you won that rep already and you’ll be OK. That goes with any play, it doesn’t matter what play they call, I know that I’m going to be OK.”