Former Wasps winger Christian Wade is not giving up his dream of making the 53-man roster with the Buffalo Bills despite the NFL cancelling pre-season matches.
Wade introduced himself to Bills fans by ripping off a 65-yard touchdown run in his first play as an NFL running back in a pre-season game against the Indianapolis Colts 12 months ago.
But the decision taken by the NFL to scrap the pre-season schedule – comprising four matches prior to the season’s kick-off – comes as a blow for Wade’s opportunities to shine.
Listed as the team’s fifth-choice running back, Wade has spent the majority of his time on the Bills’ practice squad where NFL regulations stipulate players must earn a minimum of $136,000-per-season (£102,800).
September 5 is the key date in Wade’s diary as that is when NFL teams must trim their squads down to the final 53-man roster to compete during the season.
“This is my second year and it’s I guess a make or break year,” Wade said. “It’s ironic, the fact that we’re not going to have any pre-season games and this whole crazy situation.
“I believe I do [have a chance to make the roster], because of the way that the Bills organisation and everything is set up.
“Coach [Sean McDermott] really believes in choosing the best players to be a part of the team, to be in the squad, so I feel as though if I prove myself in practice – and he’s giving us lots of opportunities to really put our best foot forwards – then I’ll really have a chance to make the team.”
Wade’s prolific record of 82 tries in 130 appearances for Wasps in the Premiership holds its place in the league’s history books.
But there are no regrets for the 29-year-old who is only ten tries off Premiership all-time leading scorer Tom Varndell (92).
“There’s no regrets whatsoever on my side,” he added. “When I make a decision, I’ve already thought it out in my mind. I’m not someone to make to make spur of the moment decisions. When it’s a big decision, if I’ve made it, it’s something I’ve thought about.
“There’s definitely no regrets. The whole reason I came out here was that an opportunity presented itself and I wanted to test myself against the best athletes in the world, to put myself in a situation where I knew I was going to be uncomfortable but it’d make me grow as a man and an athlete as well.
“Whatever comes of that, I guess, is meant to be.”
New rules brought in by the NFL to aid teams during the COVID-19 pandemic could serve to benefit Wade, with the original roster declaration mandatory the day before a match now permissible to include changes as late as 90 minutes before kick-off.