Josh Bynes has waited for this opportunity.
At the same time, he hasn't. He's put in the work, trying to achieve his NFL dreams by grinding through training camps and spending time with Baltimore's practice squad, all while looking at a laundry list of players in front of his on the depth chart.
But now an opportunity has presented itself. A star linebacker on Auburn's 2010 BCS championship team, Bynes went undrafted and joined the Ravens as an undrafted free agent.
He had a standout game against Atlanta in the 2011 preseason finale, but it wasn't enough to earn a 53-man roster spot. He joined the practice squad, though, keeping his dream alive.
Fast forward to this season's training camp and Bynes is sitting in a position where he could open the 2013 season as Baltimore's starting weakside linebacker. With Ray Lewis retiring and Jameel McClain's status unknown due to a spinal cord contusion that hasn't fully healed, Bynes has been competing with Albert McClellan and rookie Arthur Brown for the starting spot.
So far, Bynes has done enough in the competition to lead for the spot.
"He played like a starting inside linebacker," coach John Harbaugh said. "So, he's the leader right now for that spot, and he's going to be challenged by a couple other guys strongly, but he played very well."
Though he's the frontrunner, Bynes knows there's a long way to go before he solidifies that spot.
"Basically, you know that saying, 'Good things happen to people that wait.' You can't just sit around waiting for your opportunity to come for your opportunity to come because it will pass you on by," Bynes said. "I was waiting but at the same time working. You keep on working, eventually the opportunity will come your way. You have to take advantage of it when it does come your way."
Last preseason, Bynes had another setback in his quest to become an NFL starter. He suffered a cracked vertebrae during the beginning of training camp and had to sit out six weeks. That hurt his chances of making the 53-man roster, and he once again began the season on the practice squad.
Once again, Bynes waited and worked. When Lewis tore his triceps and was placed on injured reserve-designated to return, Bynes was the corresponding roster move. When McClain suffered the injury he's still recovering from against Washington in Week 14, Bynes was forced into more playing time. He earned his first start against the Broncos a week later against Denver. He capped his first season with the final tackle on special teams in Super Bowl XLVII.
"It's been hard," Bynes said. "Starting in my rookie year on the practice squad and ending up the way it happened last year, all the way to this year. I've been through a lot of obstacles and as it is right now, there's nothing set in stone. I'm still fighting each and every day. I'm out there hungry to make plays and making my presence shown in any way possible."
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