INDIANAPOLIS – A little more than a decade ago, Mike Adams was holed up in a San Francisco 49ers' meeting room busy counting.
His coach had told Adams, then an undrafted kid out of Delaware, not to think about the inevitably that was coming.
Coaches can tell players to "control what they can control" all they want. At the end of the day, reality always wins.
On Saturday, 22 guys will begin the day as Indianapolis Colts.
They will all be unemployed before the end of it.
That's why Adams was counting.
Monday morning practice.
"Hell yeah, I found myself counting every day," Adams says now, referring to himself doing his own roster crunching back when he was a rookie in the NFL.
"I've sat in the back of the room before, 'He's a first-round pick, they are keeping him. It's going to come down to me and him and I've got to out play this guy.' That's natural. It's real."
Adams will be watching on Thursday night.
His roster spot in 2016 is about as secure as any on this roster.
But Adams will be engaged on Thursday, being part cheerleader/part coach on the sideline, knowing that he's watching himself out there from a decade ago.
With starters resting on Thursday, this final 60 minutes of the preseason is pretty much all about guys trying to make one final imprint.*
What can I do to make Ryan Grigson and the decision makers inside this very building pause when my name is brought up?*
"This is big," second-year linebacker Edwin Jackson says referring to Thursday night against the Bengals, when guys in his spot will be playing quite a lot trying to survive from 75 to 53.
"I'm going out there to win this trophy. I know this is another opportunity to show the country, I want to be here. I want to stay here. Going into these games, you have to treat them like it's your last one. Being a younger guy, I know what it feels like to be thinking in the back of your head, 'Am I going to make it or not?'"
Injuries all over the defensive side of the ball for the Colts will surely impact how the roster mechanics are divided up in 2016.
- Do the Colts have room for four running backs? Or is that extra spot needed on defense?
- Will the Colts need to carry an extra defensive lineman early in the season with Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford possibly sidelined for the start of the year?
- Is there a linebacker or defensive back that has made enough of an impression on special teams to warrant a precious roster spot?
The temporary lockers inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center are beginning to clear out.
Thursday night is the final chance to prove that a permanent locker is deserved.
"It's just a great opportunity for the young guys and guys fighting to make an impression on the coaches," veteran corner Jalil Brown says.
"It is a Super Bowl for those guys."