Josue Looks For An Extended Stay In Green Bay

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The practice squad in the NFL is usually a revolving door.

One minute a team wants to keep someone around and the next minute they fill a need and that promising player gets cut. To make a long story short, when you're on the practice squad you may look to rent and not own because you just don't know how long you'll be in town.

Steve Josue knows how this works. After all, he spent all of the 2003 season on the Packers' practice squad, showing up to practice and working hard without ever being asked to join the 53-man roster.

For some players that's not an easy concept to grasp. But Josue, a 6-2, 230-pound linebacker out of Carson-Newman, learned to live with the hand he was dealt and he says he made the most of it.

"I would get nervous and knew that I had to be on my toes at all times," Josue said. "But at the same time, I knew I was working hard. After a bad practice, I just tried to redeem myself, and hopefully the coaches would understand."

Apparently, the coaches understood Josue's potential and thought highly enough of him to keep him around all season and sign him to the roster before allocating him to NFL Europe this spring.

Josue, who was drafted by the Packers in the seventh round of the 2003 draft, said that he wasn't to the point where he could play from scrimmage last season because he was still learning the system. He understood why the Packers sent him overseas and said it's "just part of the game."

"I enjoyed myself," Josue said. "It had been a while since I played in an actual game, so it was nice to showcase my talent. Playing football and making plays was a welcomed change."

Josue also put together a few gaudy numbers in college at Carson-Newman, a Division II school in Tennessee. He started 43 games, and totaled 166 tackles (99 solo), 29 sacks and 55 1/2 tackles for loss.

If Josue plans on making the Packers roster this season, he will have to use what he learned playing for the Amsterdam Admirals, where he was a teammate of current Packers tight end Tony Donald.

Josue was known as a pass rushing threat in college more than he was as a linebacker, but the Packers think his chances to play that spot were enhanced in NFL-E.

"He appears to be more physical so far and that's what I've liked," linebackers coach Mark Duffner said. "I think his aggressive play suggests he's more confident. Playing the position seems to be more natural for him now. He's got plenty of things to work on, but I've been impressed so far with his effort.

"He's a real good athlete. He has real good agility and pass rush skills. If he wants to stay, he just has to be guy who stands out and makes plays."

Josue's eyes light up when he talks about his lifelong dream of playing professional football. Although he admits that might be tough, he is just happy to have the chance.

"Everybody who ever plays football dreams of making it to the NFL," Josue said. "Obviously, not everybody can do that and that's why I am thankful that I just have the opportunity to make it."

Josue says he didn't know a great deal about the Packers before he arrived in Green Bay, but it didn't take long to find out what the city was all about.

"I knew about the rich tradition," Josue said. "I knew some of the players, some of the history.

"But the fans...that surprised me big time. The fans are always so excited and real supportive. It's unbelievable how they come out here to see the Green Bay Packers."

Learning from the players in front of him and being in the system last season certainly has helped Josue. If he can take something from players like Na'il Diggs and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, he will be in good hands.

"I watch Diggs a lot because he knows how to play the position," Josue said. "He is so elusive. I also learn a lot of pass rushing moves from Kabeer. They both are helping me become a better player."

While Josue said playing football would be ideal, he is confident that he has something to fall back on.

"I have a degree in computer information systems," Josue said. "Hopefully, one day when football isn't in my life, I can do some networking, graphics or web designing."

Anyone who knows the soft spoken Josue probably wonders if he is mean enough to play football. Josue even admitted that most people know him as "a nice laid back guy, who is down to earth." He says people think of him as very quiet and easy to get along with.

As he said, "don't let the nice-guy mentality fool you."

"If you push my buttons, it's not going to be a good sight," Josue claimed. "I may be a nice guy off the field, but when it's time to play, I'll be ready to make a difference."

The Packers can't wait to find out.

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