Some guys only get one shot in the NFL, while others sometimes get lucky and receive another chance to prove they can play and make a difference to whatever team gives them another opportunity.

Generally if it comes down to a third, it’s like baseball – three strikes and your out.  Very rarely – if ever – do you get a fourth.


2008 was the last time we saw Shawn Crable play in an actual game. (PHOTO: Icon/SMI)

Yet linebacker Shawn Crable is indeed getting his fourth (and likely final) opportunity to contribute to the New England Patriots after he was reportedly signed to the team’s practice squad on Sunday.

Crable is an interesting story because he’s a guy who was a third round draft pick back in 2008 who had a tremendous amount of talent, but never lived up to any of it.  He had moments where he showed glimpses of what he could do during his first preseason, but ended up on injured reserve with an injured shin.  The following year he was back on injured reserve after suffering a groin injury that ended his 2009 campaign.

Heading into 2010 many had hoped that this would finally be his year, but after initially being placed on “Active PUP” one day before training camp opened, the team parted ways with him after according to head coach Bill Belichick, Crable failed to “pass his physical”. We later learned apparently that also included the team’s conditioning test, which Crable reportedly didn’t pass.  After showing up out of shape, it appeared that Belichick had had enough, and decided to cut him loose.

“We didn’t pass him on the physical, and just didn’t feel like he was ready to compete and participate right now,” said Belichick the day after Crable was cut back on July 29th.

“That’s all part of the physical,” Belichick replied when asked by a reporter if Crable’s physical included the conditioning test  “There’s a physical, and there’s being in condition – that’s all inclusive.”

Belichick later told reporters that he’d be willing to give Crable another shot, but only if he could prove he was healthy, saying “If Shawn physically is healthy, he would have a good chance to compete on the field based on what we saw coming out of college, and the limited opportunities that we’ve seen to evaluate him in the last two years.  But right now I just don’t think he’s there.”

Prior to today, that was the last time we heard his name.

Now he finds himself with one final chance to work his way onto the field, and if it does finally happen, this time he’ll have to do it all the way from the practice squad.  The team’s financial obligations toward him are now at least minimal.  As a third round pick he went from signing a four year deal with a $760,500 signing bonus (and was due a $470,000 base salary this season), to now making about $5,200 per week.

His career at Michigan was impressive, and the stats make you wish he could put it together in the NFL.  He totalled 28.5 tackles for a loss in his final season there, while forcing four fumbles.  He was a guy who was forever in the backfield making plays, which is just the type of disruptive player the Patriots have been looking for. That was precisely the reason they originally drafted him, yet here we are three years later and it hasn’t happened.

We saw a glimpse of it during the 2008 preaseason against Baltimore where he had two quarterback hits, half a sack, along with an interception.  He also was tied for the lead in combined tackles in that game.  Unfortunately we haven’t seen him since.

By bringing him back yet again, clearly Belichick is hoping that somehow Crable will finally prove he can live up to his potential, and deep down must feel that he’s got something left.  If it doesn’t work out this time, it’s not like Crable can say he wasn’t given every opportunity to earn a role with this franchise. Hopefully he has to at least know that this will also likely be his last.

Let’s face it, most guys never get this many opportunities. Yet now he’s back, so let’s just hope he can finally make the most of it.