Josh Thomas was running his real estate business in the Charlotte, N.C., area when the Vikings gave him a call the week training camp opened.
The veteran cornerback left the company in his wife's hands to head to Mankato and seek a spot on the roster. He's one of many backups who will receive one final opportunity to state their case when the Vikings travel to face the Titans in the preseason finale on Thursday. The 26-year-old is one of seven cornerbacks who remain on the active roster, but the Vikings must cut 22 players by 3 p.m. Saturday.
Thomas, who has played four seasons in the NFL, had a lot of ground to make up after missing veteran minicamp, organized team activities and minicamp in a new scheme. There are specific techniques that coach Mike Zimmer wants every cornerback to use at the position that can take time to learn, but Thomas has received praise for his work ethic from Zimmer, defensive coordinator George Edwards and cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
"[Thomas] asks questions," Rhodes said. "If he doesn't understand it, he's going to ask. It could be the craziest question, and you'll sit there and laugh at him, but it'd be the smartest question. At the end of the day when it does happen on the field, we'd be like, 'Oh snap. We didn't know that.' He's a very smart player and learning the technique very fast."
Despite the long wait during the offseason to sign a deal, Thomas never thought the door was closed on his NFL career.
"I got more eager as time went on, but at the same time my purpose in life is my wife and kids and becoming a better person," Thomas said. "This is my job, and I don't look at it any other way. I love it, and anything I get myself involved in I put 100 percent and passion."
On the other side of the spectrum is rookie linebacker Edmond Robinson, who became only the second player to be drafted out of Newberry College in South Carolina. The seventh-round pick was mainly a third-stringer during OTAs, minicamp and the start of training camp, but Robinson has received snaps with the second team over the past two preseason games.
"It definitely brings more confidence in you being with the different caliber of guys and going against better competition," Robinson said. "It just brings more out of you and for me it just makes me feel like the team should expect more from me."
The Vikings are deep at linebacker, but Robinson possesses the frame (6-3, 245 pounds) and skill set that Zimmer likes at the position. He's expected to receive an extended look against the Titans in what will be valuable snaps for the rookie.
"Having a chance to play maybe the entire game, it's a great thing," Robinson said. "I just want to go out there and do what I can and do plus-more than what I can to show these coaches, general manager and the owners that I was worth a draft pick and that I can make this ballclub."
Offensive guard Zac Kerin didn't make the team as a rookie last year, but he made it through the first round of cuts and played in the preseason finale against the Titans. He earned a spot on the practice squad for the entire season.
Kerin said he's noticed improvement in his game over the past year serving at both guard and center with the Vikings. It's during a time when the Vikings have some question marks at offensive line. With season-ending injuries to Phil Loadholt and Carter Bykowski, the Vikings are thin in the trenches.
"Last year I definitely thought I was going home on the first cut day," Kerin said. "I was lucky enough to play in the last game, which helped me out a lot I thought. It's something you think about, but you've got to block out and do the best you can. If you think about it a lot, it's going to affect your play, and you don't want that to happen."