Mitchell Tinsley answered the challenge and earned his place on the Washington Commanders' initial 53-man roster for the 2023 campaign.
Being an undrafted free agent in such a crowded Washington Commanders wide receiver room meant Mitchell Tinsley and other hopefuls had a tough challenge ahead of them this offseason. Ron Rivera is big on giving everyone a fair chance to make their presence felt, but most don't meet the required standard and are moved on without much fanfare.
Tinsley didn't fall into this category. The gifted wideout made plays almost from start to finish, which has reportedly secured his place on the Commanders' initial 53-man roster according to Nick Jhabvala from The Washington Post.
Not many gave Tinsley a shot following an underwhelming transfer from Western Kentucky to Penn State, where he struggled to accumulate significant numbers and put teams off from dating him along the way. This was all the extra motivation he needed to grasp this opportunity with both hands.
Mitchell Tinsley left no doubt about his Commanders roster spot
With many ahead of Tinsley before early workouts and even heading into camp, his rise to prominence can serve as an inspiration to others in a similar situation. But how did the pass-catcher do enough to force his way into Washington's plans?
Firstly, this is all about making plays and gaining trust. Tinsley proved to be an assured presence in the passing game over Washington's camp, gradually working his way into first-string reps - something he carried on into the preseason with some exceptional grabs and his first NFL touchdown.
Consistency is key. Doing this at camp is one thing, but Tinsley's ability to produce the goods in an NFL game-day setting played a leading role in tipping the scales and securing an initial roster spot.
Another element of Tinsley's inclusion is his ability to make a special team contribution. This is something Rivera values highly in those lower down the depth chart, so being willing to do whatever it takes to be involved is a mindset that went down extremely well with the coaching staff.
Just how much action Tinsley sees this season is anyone's guess right now. The Commanders have five preferred options ahead of him on the wide receiver depth chart, but there could be an opportunity for immediate involvement depending on how Terry McLaurin's toe injury comes along in the days leading up to Washington's opener against the Arizona Cardinals at FedEx Field.
Nothing is given in the NFL, especially for players like Tinsley. So for him to attain an initial roster spot is a testament to his skills and the attitude with which he approached every practice, every film session, and every preseason rep.
Others weren't so lucky, obviously. That's all part of the NFL's cutthroat business, but Tinsley is another fine example of what can be achieved if you work hard, exceed specific targets, and embrace the challenge rather than approach it with trepidation.
This mentality and self-confidence were enough for Tinsley to prove he belonged when many scoffed at the notion of such an unproven commodity making the team. But the wideout would be wise to keep the same approach and ensure complacency doesn't become an issue.
Tinsley should spend the day celebrating - he's earned it. After that, it's all about continuing to get better and repaying the faith shown in him by the Commanders.
Congratulations, young fella. Keep up the good work.