Before late Sunday afternoon, the name Ben Steele was largely unknown to those who are not the most ardent Green Bay Packer supporters. That was before the 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end made one of the most clutch fumble recoveries in recent Green and Gold memory.
Since claiming the loose ball that would later be kicked through the uprights for the game-winning field goal to beat the Vikings though, Steele has had an exciting few days but is ready to get back to work to help the special teams units that he has been a big part of contribute to another victory.
"It's definitely been pretty crazy with all the attention," said Steele. "The phone has been ringing off the hook with everybody really excited and it's been awesome. Definitely it was a huge play, but I just think I was lucky right there just to be in that position to fall on the ball when it was out there.
"We've said that on special teams we've got to be ready for anything and special teams are a huge part of the game. We've got to keep our special teams rolling and be a huge contributor."
Steele, who joined the Packers at the start of the regular season as a member of the practice squad, has made seven tackles on special teams in eight games since being called up to the 53-man active roster. He has also seen some action in the offense in some two- and three-tight end sets, a role which could be expanded Sunday night as the Packers go on the road to play the Houston Texans.
David Martin, number two on the depth chart at tight end, was knocked out of the Vikings contest with an injury to his left knee and has been listed as questionable to return to action this week.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said Wednesday that he is confident that Steele can handle the added responsibility if Martin is unable to go against the Texans. Sherman's confidence in the first-year player has grown watching him perform against the Green Bay defense in practice every day.
"To appreciate him, you have to watch him in practice against our defense," said Sherman. "We really struggle covering him. He's a great route-runner, he has excellent hands, and he has size.
"Ben has run every route in our offense, and when we lost David I went over to him and asked him if there was anything that I should hold back on that he was unfamiliar with and he said, 'No, I know it all.' That was good news, and I don't feel like there's anything that he can't do."
Steele, who is technically a first-year player since he is seeing his first duty as an active player during the regular season, is definitely no bright-eyed rookie. He has had stints with three other NFL teams - San Francisco (training camp in 2001 and 2002), Oakland (practice squad in '02), and Minnesota ('03 and '04 training camps) since graduating from Division II Mesa State College in 2001.
Add in a 10-game run with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe in the spring of 2002, and the 26-year old tight end has shown resiliency and determination in making his NFL dream a reality.
Steele said in the locker room Wednesday that he's ready to grab on to his chance in the offense just like he grabbed on to the ball at the bottom of the pile against the Vikings Sunday.
"I've definitely got to take advantage of the opportunity, so I've got to prepare this week like I might get some extra playing time," he said. "I'm excited about that and I have to just prepare and be ready for anything."
"I've just got to make plays and do what I can to stay around."