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Impressive Debut Five Years in the Making
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Kenny Wiggins waited five years for this moment, and he made sure to make the most of it.
He’d battled hard in training camp for five seasons only to be released during the final round of cuts. He exhausted all of his practice squad eligibility over three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers, and after spending two separate seasons on and off active rosters yet to see an offensive snap, the 27-year Wiggins finally got his chance Week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings.
What went through his mind?
“It’s about damn time!” he said with a smile
And what did he do?
“I got a knock down on the first play. It was a pass and I had a twist off with Trevor (Robinson). The linebacker came in and I knocked him off Trevor, so that’s how I took out five years of frustration.”
Wiggins is a bright spot in what has been a difficult season for the Bolts, embodying everything fans love about sports as he never gave up on his dream. Out of practice squad eligibility in 2014, Wiggins was released at the end of last year’s training camp. He never gave up, and was re-signed by the Bolts prior to Week 17 when he saw his first career snaps on special teams.
“I was working out and just staying in shape. Just keeping the dream alive. Around Week 12 or 13 I was like, ‘Alright, I don’t know if anything’s going to happen’ and my agent told me other teams were interested in signing me to a futures deal after the season was over. So I said I’ll just stay working out (until then), and then the Chargers called me last week of the season.”
With the Bolts all through this offseason, Wiggins was another tough final cut once the preseason ended. Remaining optimistic, he stayed ready in case the team needed him, and was re-signed the day after the season opener to bolster the offensive line after an injury to D.J. Fluker.
Wiggins is easy to root for, and has made a fan out of his quarterback.
“Kenny loves the game and has a passion for it,” Philip Rivers said. “When you believe in yourself that you can do it, until you’ve exhausted every last straw, you keep going. Really, he had exhausted it all. All of his practice squad eligibility and everything. And then he gets the call, and here he is and he stepped up and played well for us. Because he had spent different times with us, it is as if he’d been here the whole time. And here he is starting four games, and playing well. So you are always happy for a guy like that, and shoot, he’s playing really well.”
“He’s worked extremely hard from the first day we had him here,” Head Coach Mike McCoy added.
“He does everything you ask of him. The game means something and the opportunity to play. His work ethic and all the hard work has paid off. I think when he’s gotten his opportunity to come help us, that’s exactly what he’s done. He’s done an outstanding job regardless of what his role was or is to this point in time. I’m very pleased with what he’s done for us.”
Although Wiggins is also pleased with how he’s performed, he is far from satisfied.
“I think I’ve played pretty well being able to go to multiple positions playing left guard and right tackle, but there’s always room for improvement. There are always the plays you want to have back during the course of the game. Always just searching for that perfect game. I knew if I wanted to be a backup lineman in the NFL I was going to have to play multiple positions. The coaches gave me the opportunity to play all over the place this camp and I’m very thankful for that because I don’t know if I’d be here if I couldn’t. I would say my versatility is my strength because not many people can play all five spots any given day. Just play me anywhere and I’ll be a solid player. I’ll be the same guy day in and day out.” Read