The wait is almost over for Erik Meyer.
After four seasons as a record-setting quarterback for the Eastern Washington Eagles, Meyer has spent five often frustrating years trying to carve out a spot in professional football. He was a backup for the Arena Football League Utah Blaze when the Spokane Shock, in dire need of a quarterback, traded for Meyer last week.
Meyer hasn’t started since handling the last eight games of the 2007 NFL Europe season for the Cologne Centurions. He took most of the repetitions at Shock practice Monday. The team is coming off a bye week.
“It’s been a while,” Meyer said of being on top of the depth chart. “It was fun to go out there and compete and know I’m starting Friday. I’m just really excited and preparing the best I can.”
Meyer thought his opportunity would finally come in Utah, where he joined former Shock offensive coordinator Matt Sauk, but an injury in training camp opened the door for Tommy Grady.
“Personally I think he would have had the starting job if he hadn’t pulled his groin,” said center Raymond McNeil, who was part of the four-player trade that brought Meyer from Utah. “He’s a good leader, he knows the game and he studies the game. He’s a competitor.”
One would have to be to keep chasing their pro football dream after five long years. Meyer signed as a free agent with Cincinnati in 2006 and took “3 or 4” snaps in an NFL exhibition game. He went to Cologne and had solid stats (1,612 yards, 13 touchdowns, 101.1 passer rating).
He was with the Seahawks in 2007 training camp, Oakland in 2008 and briefly with CFL Hamilton in 2009 – briefly because after a coaching change Meyer was released before he reported. He was the No. 2 quarterback behind Kyle Rowley in Spokane last season.
Now comes a chance to start against Philadelphia on Friday on NFL Network.
“I’ve just been waiting for an opportunity,” said Meyer, who has coached at La Mirada (Calif.) High, his alma mater. “It took four years (since Cologne), but it’s here and I’m excited for it.
“It’s been tough, especially the last four years waiting for an opportunity. It crossed my mind (leaving football behind), but I love playing and competing. I can’t see myself quitting any time soon. I definitely would love to get another shot in the NFL, but the goal right now is winning Friday.”
Meyer, who won the 2005 Walter Payton Award, symbolic of Division I-AA’s most outstanding offensive player, passed for 84 touchdowns and 10,261 yards at EWU. He attempted 1,097 passes in his collegiate career. He’s attempted 233 in pro football, 205 for Cologne and 28 in mop-up duty last year. One plus is his 28-year-old body hasn’t taken many hits after leaving Eastern.
“He’s been under (Sauk) the last two years running the same offense we run under (offensive coordinator) Andy Olson in his surrogate home town,” Shock head coach Rob Keefe said. “I don’t think the situation could be any better for Erik.”
The Shock haven’t taken care of business on the field, but neither have the teams they’re chasing for a playoff spot. Dallas (7-5) is in good shape for one of two at-large berths. The other could come down to Utah (5-6), San Jose (5-7), Spokane (4-7), Tulsa (4-7) and Kansas City (4-8).
“The door is wide open,” Keefe said. “It’s just a matter of time before the ball starts bouncing our way. We’re refreshed (from the bye week) and ready to go.”
Receiver Greg Orton had a tryout Monday with Omaha of the UFL. … Former Idaho Vandal Eric Greenwood is trying out with the Shock. The 6-foot-6 receiver led the Vandals in receptions (46) and yardage (741) last season. … Receiver Raul Vijil appeared to tweak his right hamstring after making a catch in one-on-one drills. He didn’t return. … Receiver Markee White (foot) participated in practice. He hasn’t played since Week 2. … DL Jonathan Williams (foot) and WR Adron Tennell, a rookie from Oklahoma, have been activated from injured reserve.