Compared to first-round draft picks, who are usually given every opportunity to succeed in the NFL, undrafted rookie free agents on the practice squad are lucky to have one opportunity to show what they can do in a game situation.
Orr is congratulated by his teammates after recovering a fumble at Buffalo.
For Texans rookie LB Shantee Orr, his chance came this past Sunday at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium in front of 72,677 screaming Bills fans.
Entering the contest, the Texans hadn't collected a sack in three consecutive games. In order to inject some youth and energy into their pass rush, as well as make up for the loss of injured LB Antwan Peek, the Texans activated Orr from the practice squad.
The 6-0, 250-pound former Michigan Wolverine, who joined the Texans after being cut by the Green Bay Packers in training camp, discovered he would be coming to Buffalo just hours before the Texans left on Saturday. Despite the short notice and the fact that he mainly played on the scout team during last week's practices, Orr looked comfortable from the start against the Bills.
With the Texans leading 6-5 with 1:12 remaining in the second quarter, the Bills took over the ball at their own 20-yard line. The last thing the Texans wanted was for the Bills to score quickly and gain momentum entering halftime.
Unfortunately, it appeared that Buffalo was ready to do just that after QB Drew Bledsoe found WR Josh Reed on a quick nine-yard gain. Just as the Bills were gaining momentum, though, Orr broke through the middle of the Buffalo offensive line to sack Bledsoe for a 10-yard loss and effectively end the Bills drive.
"It felt good to be back out there and be back in the game plan," Orr said. "I hadn't been in a game since preseason, so I had to get adjusted to the feel of the game. Once I got back into the feel of the game, I was able to relax a little more."
Late in the fourth quarter, the Texans were leading 12-8 when the Bills took possession of the ball at their own 31-yard line with 3:23 remaining. Four plays and 19 yard later, Texans LB Jamie Sharper broke free on a blitz and slapped the ball away from Bledsoe as he threw it. Instinctively, Orr pounced on the ball to seal the Texans' fourth win of the season.
"I wasn't sure if it was a live football," Orr said. "I tried to pick it up and once I saw that the referees didn't blow the whistle, I tried to run the other way and score a touchdown. Then I had to drop to the ground because I remembered how much time was on the clock."
More surprising than Orr's key play was the fact that he was even on the field during such a critical juncture of the game. It's not too often that a player goes from the practice squad and not traveling with a team one week, to clinching the team's victory the following week.
"I loved being out there," Orr said. "That says a lot about the coaches for them to put me on the field in a critical situation at the end of the game. It says a lot about how they feel about me."
Orr is back practicing as hard as he normally does this week, but he no longer is reserved to running the opponent's defense on the scout team. While he isn't sure what role he will have against the Patriots this Sunday, he knows that the Texans will need him in some capacity since Peek will be missing his second consecutive game.
"I'd say I have the same role as before—just filling in," Orr said. "I just have to take care of my job and try to go out there and produce when I have a chance.
"I am really thankful to be in this position. I thank God and I'm just trying to take advantage of this opportunity while I have a chance."