Christian Wade certainly knows how to make an entrance, but building on his surprising first impression could prove to be a tougher task.
The Buffalo Bills running back and former England rugby union wing scored with a 65-yard run on his first-ever touch in the NFL last Thursday as Buffalo opened preseason play against the Colts, taking off like a rocket after he found a hole and weaved his way through Indianapolis defenders.
Five days later — in a much warmer climate than he is used to in both Buffalo and his homeland as the Bills visit the Carolina Panthers this week — Wade is still savouring the moment that inspires him to continue down the new path he is on.
“I’m feeling really good right now. Scoring on my first touch in my first game just for me kind of gives me extra motivation to just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Wade told Stats Perform.
“There’s been times where I’ve woken up and been ‘this is really a struggle’ and I guess doubting myself a little bit. Maybe sometimes not getting enough reps, which I guess is usual for a new guy.
“For me, I know I learn best by being on the field and playing … definitely have to work on the psychological side of things.”
— Christian Wade (@ChristianWade3) August 10, 2019
That was evident as Wade continued to work out with several team-mates and coaches in the scorching heat even after Tuesday’s joint practice with the Panthers had been called for the day.
Wade made the switch to football in October after a decade-long rugby career and was assigned to the Bills in April as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program.
He noted his speed, footwork and vision as the most transferable skills he brings with him from one sport to the other, all of which were evident as he scored last week.
With star backs like Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and LeSean McCoy already on the Bills roster, Wade faces an uphill battle to break camp with Buffalo, but he will not let the challenge discourage him.
“I’m still young in this game,” Wade said. “In my infancy I’m just trying to learn every day, trying to get better every day, and doing everything I can to contribute to the team. We’ll see where that leads me when it comes to the day when they pick the teams.”
As an International Player Pathway Program participant, Wade can stay on the Bills’ roster until the end of training camp. At that time, he will be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption, granting Buffalo an eleventh practice squad member who is ineligible to be activated during the 2019 season.
However, if he does make the regular 53-man roster, Wade is most excited about the prospect of playing one team in particular.
“The Patriots,” Wade said with a smile. “I think that would be just an amazing contest.”
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