SACRAMENTO -- Making it to the NFL is hard enough, but getting back in, some say, is even harder.
Sacramento's Eric Pinkins is trying to do just that, after injuries derailed his path.
Pinkins had it pretty good back in 2014. He was drafted out of college to play linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. He played two seasons there before a shoulder injury led to his release. Then Pinkins was picked up by the New York Giants before an ankle injury back in August forced the 6'2", 220 pounder who played locally at Inderkum High School to the sidelines yet again -- and this time, without an NFL team to play for.
"Yeah, it's kind of been an ambiguous process. But I wouldn't trade it for the world because I feel like in that time I've been able to grow as an individual, spiritually and mentally," Pinkins said.
And the time away has also allowed Pinkins' body to not only heal, but to be more physically fit for what the NFL demands.
"When you think of guys who play in the NFL and you say, 'Wow, these guys are bigger than me, stronger than me, faster than me,' that's Eric. He's a freakish athlete," said Cody Galea, Pinkins' college teammate.
Galea knows the demands football puts on your body. Not only was he Pinkins' college teammate at San Diego State, Galea played briefly for the Indianapolis Colts before injuries forced him to retire.
"This is probably one of hardest things about playing professional sports, is the whole patience part. Coming in every day with the same attitude, coming in and working hard knowing that call might come today and knowing it might not," Galea said.
"If your body can't function, you can't play ball," Pinkins said.
"I mean, physically he's in his prime right now. At age 26, there is no indication of any potential drop off any time soon," said Andrew Moose, Pinkins' trainer.
Moose runs Ethos Strength and Conditioning in Sacramento and has spent the past two months preparing Eric for the opportunity when an NFL team calls.
"He's a workhorse. He's got all the physical tools you're looking for someone who plays that position, that hybrid-linebacker/safety position," Moose said.
"There is no doubt in my mind that he'll be playing in the NFL next year, again," Galea said.
"Yeah, you got to fight every single day. You can't take one day off because there is a new draft class every single year. Somebody wants you're spot," Pinkins said.
The next few months will be critical to Pinkins' NFL career. His agent will be fielding calls from teams trying to find the right fit. And when training camp opens this summer, it will be up to Pinkins to make it stick.