There's no denying Chris McCain was a star throughout the offseason.
Showcasing his size and speed, the young playmaker made a name for himself during OTAs, training camp and preseason action. In the end, he proved worthy of a significant role once the regular season began for the Miami Dolphins.
Yes, the Dolphins.
Before he joined the Chargers, McCain entered the NFL in 2014 as an undrafted free agent in Miami. Just like this year for the Bolts, the defensive end had a dominant showing, earning him a spot on the 53-man roster.
McCain parlayed that success to an equally impressive season opener.
"My first game was against the Patriots Week 1," he recalled. "My first very NFL snap was a blocked punt. Then in the third quarter, I sacked Tom Brady. I probably played no more than eight snaps that game though, if that."
Then a funny thing happened.
McCain expected to get more opportunities. Instead, the opposite happened.
"Week 2 came around and I played five snaps. Then the next five or six weeks they didn't even dress me. I was on the active roster, but I didn't dress."
This usage continued for the next two seasons. Although grateful for the opportunity Miami gave him to live out his dream, he was equally frustrated.
"I never got the opportunity that I have here. Yes, I am grateful, but I wish I had the chance I have here."
Miami traded McCain to the New Orleans Saints two days before the final preseason game in 2016. McCain thought he had a fresh start.
Unfortunately, New Orleans cut him days later.
The Dallas Cowboys signed McCain to their practice squad, and he spent a month there before being waived. He found his way back to the Saints, bouncing back and forth between their active roster and practice squad.
After he was released in early November, a fed-up McCain considered retirement. He knew he could thrive in the NFL, but was frustrated to not get an opportunity.
Then he thought of his daughter Malayla, who had just turned one in October.
"What I went through last year was very painful, not getting the chance I thought I (deserved)," he said. "It wasn't as far as being traded, it was not getting the chance with (multiple) teams. I started to work out, and I was ready to retire. I was ready to hang it up, but then I thought of her. This is the only way I know to (provide for her)."
The Chargers signed McCain to their practice squad on Nov. 25, and the rest is history.
Just like his first year in Miami, the defensive end turned heads each practice with his rare combination of size and speed. The only difference is the Bolts are actually giving him an opportunity to make the same impact during the regular season.
"I felt I had a similar OTAs and training camp as I did here. They just didn't play me. I didn't get the equal shot that I have here."
McCain rewarded the Bolts' faith with a sack in the season opener. However, he sat in the locker room after the game disappointed in his play. He firmly believes he did not perform up to standards, promising his teammates they'll see a better McCain on the field come Sunday.
The fact it comes against his former team makes it even more special.
"I can't wait. Miami gave me my first chance, but they traded me. I feel they gave up on me, so yeah, I want to show them what they are missing."