Every path to an NFL roster is different.
Jahleel Addae's certainly wasn't easy.
Coming in undrafted four years ago, Addae fought his way to make the 53-man roster as a rookie. He played primarily on special teams before working his way into a starting role and inking a new four-year contract in March.
As he enters his fifth season, Addae is ready to take on 2017 with the same excitement and fervor as in years' past. Additionally, he's embracing more of a leadership role in the secondary.
"Going into year five, I'm a little bit more vocal," Addae said. "I'm not a young guy anymore. I'm getting on that verge of 'vet,' but it's awesome. I've embraced it. This offseason has gone really well for the group all together…. This (rookie) class has done well. They came in, gelled with us, and it's like we've been together for two or three years."
Addae mentioned he has always seen himself in a leadership role. It's just that although he wasn't literally speaking up as much as he is now, his play on the field spoke for itself.
"Maybe I wasn't as vocal (before), but I always felt like I was a leader maybe through the way I worked, the way I took care of my body and how I handled my business. I don't take this job lightly and I think (people) can tell. I play the game with a lot of passion. I just know that with my tenacity and the way I set the tone, others will follow."
One of the ways Addae is leading the secondary is through mentoring. While every job in the NFL is earned, he remembers what it was like to come in four years ago. He remembers the challenges he faced and wants to be there for young players who may need his help or advice.
"It feels good to be a mentor. I know I had mentors that I looked up to and asked questions (to). To be able to give that gratitude back to the young guys is something that I like to do. Sometimes I'll sit back and remember; I'll take myself out of my body and I'll look at someone else in their situation. I know the work that's coming, how the game will be fast and how there are a lot of plays in the playbook with different terminology. As a safety, you're the quarterback of the defense because you're making the calls and checks. As a young guy, that can be very demanding."
As for his play on the field, Addae could not contain his excitement when describing Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley. According the number 37, Bradley's demeanor really resonates with the players and he's looking forward to how his coaching style will continue to influence the defense.
"He's honestly a real player's coach. A lot of times, that phrase gets thrown around, but he's a legit player's coach. He knows how to motivate us. At this level, I don't think you need much motivation, because you (have to) go out there and do your job at a high level, but we're human and he always gives us the extra push. Whether we're in meetings, or on the field, he paints a picture for us. We see it visually and he does a great job (giving) a lot of positive encouragement. There's not a lot of negativity around him and that trickles down through all the coaches. It's refreshing. At this level, everyone is in the NFL, everyone is getting paid to make a play. But, you're never going to be 100% at what you do. Whether that's covering somebody, making a tackle or the right read, check or whatever. But to know you have someone in your corner who is there for you, hold you accountable but also pat you on the back when you're doing well; it's an awesome feeling."