INDIANAPOLIS — As he grew up playing football in Alabama, Chester Rogers could only dream that he'd one day make an NFL regular season roster.
But after signing with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted rookie, Rogers went out, starting with offseason workouts and ending with the final preseason game, and won himself a spot on the Colts' initial 53-man roster.
On Sunday, he'll make his professional debut in the Colts' 2016 regular season opener against the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I'm excited. It's a new experience," Rogers said this week. "(It's) something I've been dreaming about all my life, and it's finally here. So I'm just taking everything and just soaking it all up."
Rogers comes to Indianapolis via Grambling State, where he put up solid numbers in 40 career games — 155 receptions for 2,257 yards and 17 touchdowns — and also displayed the ability to be a threat in the return game, returning a punt for a touchdown.
At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, the Huntsville, Ala., native had to take the hard path to getting the opportunity to prove his worth in the NFL, however, going undrafted and signing wth the Colts on May 2.
From the very start, the Colts knew they would only likely have one spot they needed to fill at the wide receiver spot when Week 1 came around. Rogers slowly but surely worked his way from the bottom on up, proving what he could bring to the table by being consistently good in whatever he was tasked with day in and day out.
After a strong training camp, Rogers flashed on several occasions during the preseason, catching 14 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown, and also showing he could hold his own during special teams assignments.
But others — particularly fellow undrafted rookie receiver Tevaun Smith — seemed to be going step-for-step with Rogers, leaving the Colts with a tough choice to make last Saturday, when the team faced a 4 p.m. deadline to cut down to its final 53-man roster.
But Rogers never got a call that day, which in the NFL means: "You've made it."
"It was a pretty good weekend. I tried to get away to get my mind off of it as much as possible," Rogers said. "But that's pretty hard, so I was kind of thinking about it. But to find out that I made it, man, it was such a blessing, and I was just excited."
Indianapolis is top-heavy at the wide receiver position, led by two-time Pro Bowler T.Y Hilton and two freakish athletes in Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. Its fourth receiver, Quan Bray — the team's primary returner on special teams — showed much improvement as a receiver throughout the offseason and preseason, and could see many more offensive snaps this season.
So for Rogers — who has since changed his uniform number from No. 3 to No. 80 — the task remains the same: keep being consistently good in everything he does each and every day; the rest will take care of itself. So, come Sunday against the Lions, he'll prepare as if he's a starter and be ready to go whenever needed.
"They're a great defense. They're real scrappy, they're going to play hard," Rogers said of the Lions. "But as long as we take care of us and do what the coaches have set forth for us to do, we're going to come out on top."