car•pe di•em (ˈkɑr pɛ ˈdi ɛm; Eng. ˈkɑr pi ˈdaɪ əm, ˈkɑr peɪ ˈdi əm)
Latin. seize the day; enjoy the present, without thought of the future. - Webster's Dictionary
Over the past few months I wrote a series of posts entitled The Way Of The Rooster that looked at the various aspects of what goes into making a player one of Jason Garrett's "Right Kind of Guys." One of the things that gets stressed on a continual basis is the need for a player to step up and take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.
Any time a down the roster guy brings the attitude that he will not be out worked, and he seizes the opportunities that do come his way; good things will happen.
In training camp, an UDFA safety out of Saginaw St. emerged as an underdog who had an opportunity to fight his was onto the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster. As Rabblerousr detailed during training camp, Jeff Heath managed to do what is nearly impossible for someone who was brought in as a camp body; he played his way into the NFL. In true fashion of someone who is a Disciple of the Garrett Gospel, Heath was not content with simply making the team, he has continued to prove himself.
In a manner similar to how fellow rookie JJ Wilcox stepped up and took away the starting slot that had previously belonged to free-agent acquisition Will Allen, Jeff Heath also rose to the challenge and seized Allen's role with the Cowboys special teams units and as the back up to both Wilcox and Barry Church.
“I talked to the coaches this morning and they basically said they wanted to see me play more and see what I can do,” Heath said. “It’s unfortunate one of our guys had to get let go for that to happen. I learned a lot from Will and I wish him the best. But if this means a bigger role for me and more opportunities for me, then I’m ready to step up.” - Jeff Heath
Over the past five weeks, Jeff Heath has played a total of 94 snaps, recording a total of four special teams tackles and recovering a fumble. Those numbers are good enough to rank Heath as the second leading special teams tackler. He has also seen limited duty at safety, taking 15 snaps in a mop up role against the St. Louis Rams. As a result of his own efforts combined with the missed opportunity that was afforded to Allen, Jeff Heath finds himself as the "next man up" behind the Cowboys starters at safety. Although his primary role will still be as a member of the special teams units, he knows that his number could be called at any time on defense and that he needs to be ready to step up into whatever slot becomes open to him.
"I’ll still be on special teams, that’ll be the No. 1 priority every week, because that’s what I’m going to be doing every week for sure.I feel like I’ve prepared every week to where if my number was called, I’d be ready to go. I’m just going to continue to do that. Not get too anxious or worked up, because at the end of the day, it’s just another day. I just have to go perform.” - Jeff Heath
Jeff Heath knows what is expected from him, and what he needs to do to meet those expectations. Now is the time for him to embrace The Way Of The Rooster and seize the opportunity that now knocks on his door.