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After Making The Roster, Redskins Rookies Reflect On An Emotional Day

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Cam Sims told his daughter first, but she didn't understand the significance.

His girlfriend overheard the conversation and began crying, then relayed the news to Sims's mother, who began crying, too.

After walking into the facility Saturday with an unintentionally dead phone, Sims checked that his locker name plate was still there and breathed a sigh of relief, the material assurance that he had made the team's 53-man roster.

"It was a great day to know that I still had my locker," Sims said. "It was just crazy to see I made the 53, it was just crazy, and I was just happy for real."  

The day was filled with similar kinds of phone calls and misty reactions. Wide receiver Trey Quinn said that his mother and sister couldn't stop crying once he told them. Cornerback Danny Johnson didn't even have to call his mother, who phoned him instead once the team's meeting ended and began letting the tears flow.

Check out these photos of the Redskins' preparing for their Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.

Between the three of them – Sims and Johnson being undrafted, Trey Quinn taken last in the draft – Saturday's news that they had made the active roster was gratifying, but also a reminder of the work ethic and attitude that provided them the opportunity to be in that position at all.

Once the cuts finished on Saturday, with the coaching staff shaving the roster of 37 players, Sims, Johnson, Quinn and the rest of their rookie peers could finally relax for the moment, transitioning their mindsets from making impressions to thinking about an opponent for the first time.

Quinn arguably had his most impactful game last Thursday against the Ravens, where he collected three passes for 43 yards, making defenders miss in open space and showing the agility and quickness that made him such a threat at SMU. He was glad to have it all settle in at practice on Sunday.

"It's cool, I mean you're back now, your focus is to win ballgames instead of make a team," Quinn said. "It's exciting to have that, I've got security for a little bit, I don't know I still got to come out here and make plays and be able to help this team win. So, I'm a pretty focused individual, so there's not a lot of off time for me just taking a break."

Sims made the most of his preseason, especially considering he missed the third game with an injured thigh. He only made five catches but amassed 131 yards, leading the team, the majority of them coming in crucial situations, like the 20-yard catch he grabbed to set up the game-winning field goal against the Jets.

Johnson had a strong training camp, too, impressing coaches with his athleticism and technique. The Southern University product collected six tackles in the preseason and made his mark defending passes and on special teams.

"All the hard work that I put in. I know it's not the end of the road, I know the work is not done, still a long season ahead," Johnson said. "But, I think just the focus, just in the meeting rooms listening to watch the coaches said. And like I said, not making the same mistakes that I made the day before in practice. So I think that's just what helped me make this team, and then like I said, contributing on special teams, I think that helped as well." 

Head coach Jay Gruden pointed both out during OTAs in June as players he thought had stood out, and they continued to do so throughout August.

"Consistency really, and then when you turn the lights on they play in games and make big plays," Gruden said. "You saw what Cam did in the preseason game making the big plays despite having the thigh, big-time thigh injury, finish the game and made the big play at the end of the game to get us the field goal and win the game. And then Danny, he's been playing inside and outside and he's just been a great, tough, competitive player throughout camp, not only as a defensive back, but also on special teams. [He has] the ability to return the ball if need be. I just love his flexibility."

It will take some time for the rookies competing to let the feeling sink in. Days ago they let thoughts creep about the possibility of looking for work after this weekend. Now, they're focused on the Arizona Cardinals, with the veterans they've been practicing alongside of the last few months.

With a week before the first regular season game, the transition will lead to a new challenge, one Quinn and his teammates are ready to handle.

"I've heard it over and over again, just having a routine everyday, whether it's coming out here and practicing or going back and being able to watch film," Quinn said. "So, I'm going to take some time, reflect on that, try to get a plan together, whether it's on a piece of paper, just in the mind of having something to do every day, just to make sure I'm on track."

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