PITTSBURGH – The odds were long, sure, but running back Elijah Hood had done everything he could to push for a roster spot.
The preseason finale at Pittsburgh was going to be the Charlotte native's chance to get a heavier workload and really show what he could do.
But his night was over after the opening kickoff.
"It just sucks," Hood said with a brace on his left knee and crutches leaning against his chair. "That's the only way I can put it – it just sucks."
Hood was on the coverage team as Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer – a teammate of Hood's at North Carolina – returned the kick 21 yards. An awkward collision left Hood on the ground and in pain.
"I was running down and was trying to cut across a guy's face," Hood recalled. "I got hit in my knee while my foot was in the ground. I don't know. It just happened."
Hood was then carted to the locker room, putting an end to what was supposed to be his final audition.
"I was having a good preseason. I was building up some momentum and kinda was reaching the pinnacle here," said Hood, who scored twice earlier in the preseason. "Then the first play of the game this happens. But that's football."
Hood's dreams of making the final roster may have been dashed, but he's determined to come back and take another crack at earning a spot with his hometown team.
"All you can do is try to keep getting better every year. I've definitely made improvements. Hopefully next year things will be more merciful," Hood said.
"Guys have been through this before. I can talk to Thomas Davis for sure. He understands how a bad knee can affect your career. He's been through a couple. He gives me confidence that I can recover from whatever this is. Just have to keep my head up and stay working."