THREE MONTHS ago, Aaron Grymes realized his dream and also had it crushed in the very same instant.
The 5-11, 185-pound free-agent cornerback was having a terrific training camp and preseason for the Eagles. The former Canadian Football League All-Star looked like a good bet to make the team's season-opening roster, or at the very least, get signed to their practice squad.
Late in the second quarter of the Eagles' second preseason game against the Steelers, he made the kind of jaw-dropping play that earns guys roster spots.
Steelers quarterback Landry Jones lobbed a pass into the end zone for wide receiver Sammie Coates. Grymes, who was covering Coates, got in front of the receiver, screened him from the ball and then made a spectacular diving interception.
Somewhere on the sideline, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was saying to himself, "OK, that's one cornerback spot taken care of."
But - and isn't there always a but? - Grymes' interception came at a steep price. He injured his right shoulder when he hit the ground.
In the locker room after the game, he insisted the shoulder was fine even though it was pretty obvious that it wasn't. He was just hoping against hope it was something he'd be able to play through.
"They did an X-ray right there in the locker room to check for a broken collarbone, and that came back negative, which was good," he said. "At that point, I'm thinking, 'Well, maybe it's a stinger.' I was able to move my shoulder, but man (it hurt)."
Turned out Grymes had a serious AC joint sprain. Serious, as in a six-to-eight-week injury.
"There's no good time for an injury," Grymes said. "But there's definitely some times that are worse than others. "I felt I was playing well. I was getting some good playing time. I felt the coaches liked me. The organization, I was growing on them. And then I got hurt."
Grymes was right. The coaches liked him. But roster spots are for people who can play and contribute now, not two months from now.
Eleven days after the interception/shoulder injury, Grymes was waived/injured.
"The day after I got hurt, my agent called me and let me know what the organization's plans were for me," he said. "You go from the highest point in your life to the lowest point in your life in 24 hours.
"I was pretty sick about it, honestly. But it comes with the game. I knew as soon as I got hurt, even though I didn't think it was that bad initially, I kind of had thought in the back of my head like, well, I'm a rookie and I'm hurt. So, if it does happen (getting released), it wouldn't be a surprise. And it happened."
As you no doubt are aware, this story has a happy ending. On Oct. 24, after the shoulder finally healed and he was cleared to play again, the Eagles signed Grymes to their practice squad.
Then, last Friday, with cornerback Leodis McKelvin still dealing with a hamstring injury that made his availability for the Falcons game very iffy, the Eagles signed Grymes to their 53-man roster.
Grymes was active Sunday. He didn't play any defensive snaps, but did play nine special-teams snaps. Might get a chance to play this week in Seattle if the Eagles' other starting corner, Nolan Carroll, doesn't clear concussion protocol.
"Aaron is still kind of working into the system just a little bit," coach Doug Pederson said Monday. "He's only been active a week. So we've got to keep bringing him along with some more reps."
The Eagles made Grymes no promises when they released him in late August. He was pretty sure he had made a positive impression on them, but he also is aware of the out-of-sight-out-of-mind maxim.
"As far as words of encouragement, I got a lot of, 'You were having a good camp,' and 'You impressed a lot of us.' Things like that," he said.
"But nothing was ever said like, 'Don't worry. You'll be back.' At the same time, I was kind of sick (about getting released). And I didn't want to hear too much. Words of encouragement weren't really doing anything for me at the time. Because I was still being sent home.
"But the guys in the locker room really kept my spirits up. They kept telling me, 'Hey, you made plays and it's on film. If this team doesn't want you, there will be somebody out there who would love to have you on their roster when you're healthy."
It's been a long and winding road to the NFL for the 25-year-old Grymes. An all-conference cornerback at the University of Idaho, he went undrafted in 2013 and wasn't even signed as a free agent.
With his wife Hannah three months' pregnant, Grymes needed a job. With no NFL teams offering him a chance, he reluctantly signed with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos.
Ended up spending three years in Canada. Started 41 games for the Eskimos. Helped them win a Grey Cup championship last year and made the CFL All-Star team. That led to him signing with the Eagles.
After he hurt his shoulder, Grymes went home to Idaho to rehab and spend time with his wife and now-3-year-old daughter Zoey.
He said it took about seven weeks before the shoulder finally felt OK again. "It was about nine weeks before it finally was 100 percent," he said. "Even when my therapist initially cleared me, it still was stiff sometimes.
"But when you play football, you play through injuries and play through being hurt all the time. It comes with the game."
There was no guarantee the Eagles would call and offer him a job on either their practice squad or 53-man roster. But returning to Philly clearly was his first choice.
"There might have been some (other) teams that showed some interest with my agent," he said. "But I told him I wanted to see what Philly wanted to do with me once they were legally able to sign me back.
"Because I loved it here. Other than just playing well here, I loved the DB room, the coaches, the organization. Everybody around here was really cool to me. I didn't want to go somewhere and start over if I didn't have to."