This article first appeared on JonBob's Packer Blog.
For most big time performers, whether they be actors, musicians or athletes, there seems to be a point in their career when they "breakthrough." A moment when their potential shines through and they propel themselves down the path to greatness. A game or a song or a role that we can all point to and say, "Yeah, that's where it began."
Peyton Hillis' big break came when he was traded as an afterthought from Denver to Cleveland. The success of Kelly Clarkson on American Idol served as a springboard to her (semi) productive career as a pop singer. And Will Smith, of Men In Black and Gettin' Jiggy With It fame, had his breakthrough performance on the still hilarious 90's sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
On Friday night, Chastin West could have his.
When the Packers square off against the Indianapolis Colts for their third preseason game, West will take center stage. With Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb both injured and unlikely to play, West will have the opportunity not only to play with the Packers' starting offensive unit, but to play against the Colts' starting secondary. A sterling showing on his part could be just what the second year player needs to get over the hump and on to a regular season roster.
For a guy who went undrafted out of Fresno State, stayed on the Packers practice squad for a year, and is trying to earn a roster spot at the defending Super Bowl champions deepest and most skilled position, the opportunity West will have on Friday could not be any more golden.
And he's primed for the occasion. He's already had an impressive training camp, and last week's stellar performance against Arizona was quite the tune-up. All eyes will be on him tomorrow night to see if he has what it takes to be an NFL receiver. If he passes the test, he may just earn himself a roster spot.
Of course, that may not be with the Green Bay Packers. Even if Chastin West turns in an impressive performance, Packers management could decide that their team simply has too many other positions to address to afford keeping a sixth WR on the roster. West knows this. But so do the other 31 teams in the league. For West, Friday night is a try-out for the entire NFL, as many around the country will tune in to watch the nationally televised, prime-time contest. If West plays well and the Packers still don't make him a member of their regular season roster, some other team almost assuredly will.
Let me make it clear that no matter where West ends up, I'm not trying to make him out to be a future All-Pro. The kid needs to make a team and play in a handful of regular season games before those projections can be made. But if he does develop into a successful wide-receiver, either on the Packers or elsewhere, we might all look back at an innocuous preseason game in August of 2011 as the moment of his big breakthrough.
Good luck, Mr. West. Make the most of your opportunity.
If you liked this JonBob's article, please check out our other stuff.