After his first three stops in the NFL ended badly, Kentwan Balmer hopes his fourth opportunity has a different outcome.
Drafted 28th overall by the San Francisco 49ers out of the University of North Carolina in 2008, Balmer lasted just two seasons there after he clashed with then-coach Mike Singletary and demanded a trade. Balmer spent the 2010 season with Seattle, which acquired him from the 49ers for a sixth-round pick, and started 11 of 16 games, recording 43 tackles.
But disappointed with Balmer, the Seahawks cut him in August, and Carolina picked him up. Balmer didn’t last beyond the preseason in Carolina.
He said he had “quite a few” Tuesday workouts with teams, but wound up waiting 10 weeks before he finally caught on with the Redskins.
“Being out for the amount of time that I was, was real humbling and I’m appreciative to the Redskins for having me here and looking forward to having the best of this opportunity,” the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Balmer said Wednesday. “I had quite a few [workouts], but I guess with my name comes a lot of baggage. A lot of it I brought on myself. But with the time off, it was real humbling, made me realize my priorities and I’m just here to work.”
Balmer refused to elaborate on what problems led to the “baggage,” but said: “I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. I’m humbled by this opportunity and want to make the most of it.”
Balmer’s work ethic and desire have been questioned often and he already has had the label of “bust” slapped on him. But he says that having finally received a wakeup call, he has adopted a new mindset.
“Take a professional approach to this game. Not just in the season, but every day. Whether it’s Sunday, Tuesday, Friday or even during the offseason,” he said of his goal. “Just commit to the game and get a lot of the excess trash out of the way. [I want to] come in here and work and be coachable and be optimistic about every opportunity they give me, whether it’s special teams, defense, however they choose to use me, bring the effort and help the defense.”
Balmer didn’t yet know how the Redskins would use him, but he is willing to play any spot coaches ask him to. He played end in San Francisco and Seattle’s 3-4 schemes, but moved to defensive tackle in Carolina.
He is hoping his ability to play multiple spots helps him catch on with Washington.
“Versatility was always key. Big guy that can play either spot,” Balmer said of his strengths. “They brought me in for versatility. Myself, I feel like I’m a defensive tackle, but it’s not up to me. I understand that now. I just have to make the most of every opportunity.”
Meanwhile, newly-added cornerback Domonique “D.J.” Johnson said he too feels motivated by signing with the Redskins, his fifth NFL team.
The 6-foot-2, 191-pound Jackson State product broke into the league as an undrafted rookie in 2009, then had stints with the Giants and Tampa Bay before signing on to Minnesota’s practice squad earlier this season.
“I haven’t missed a week in three seasons, just some of everywhere in between,” said Jackson, who has recorded eight special teams tackles in 10 games (all for the Giants) during his career. “You can say some of it has been a numbers game, but I like to say I didn’t do what I needed to do, didn’t contribute enough on my end to remain a part of those organizations. … I was in Denver right after Coach [Mike] Shanahan left and I heard a lot of good things my rookie year, so I feel like this is a chance to come in, compete and be blessed with this opportunity.”