There are many paths to the NFL, but some are notably more difficult than others. Undrafted free agents, in particular, don't have the luxury of time on their side. The dream could end at any moment, making each and every opportunity they have to make plays all the more important.
It demands a certain mentality that most individuals simply do not possess, but for Chiefs' wide receiver Byron Pringle, it's a way of life.
"I take it personally. I have that 1-0 mentality, and I want to win at the end of the day," Pringle said. "If the coaches put me in, I want to make sure they didn't make the wrong move. I go out there with a high motor and just try to dominate my man."
Pringle epitomizes the mindset needed to make it in the NFL, as he's worked his way from being an undrafted free agent fighting for a spot on the roster to becoming a frequent contributor in multiple phases of the game. His offensive snap counts have increased in each of the last two seasons, and just last week, Pringle recorded the second-most receiving yards of his career (63) while finding the end zone for the first time this season.
He's managed to work his way into the offense while still maintaining a significant role on special teams, and from returning kicks to hauling in passes from quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Pringle has continued to prove his worth on a daily basis.
"He's obviously a very physical receiver. You see how he does on special teams and things like that, he makes those tough catches. He's also fast and he can run when he's in space," Mahomes said. "He's come along a lot these last few years learning the offense and getting himself a role in this offense. Now he'll get more and more opportunities, and I'm sure he'll make more and more plays."
Pringle's highlights include his 102-yard touchdown return against the Broncos last season and his tremendous scoring grab versus the Colts back in 2019, but one of his best plays undoubtedly took place last Sunday, when he caught a short pass over the middle before making multiple defenders miss and turning on the jets for a 40-yard touchdown.
It was an outstanding example of Pringle's unique combination of speed and lateral quickness, but his value was equally apparent on tight end Travis Kelce's memorable, 46-yard score one possession later. In fact, as Kelce rumbled down the sideline, Pringle was one of several players blocking downfield to clear the way.
"I have that mentality where I don't stop until the whistle blows, so I just keep working," Pringle explained. "If there's a defender by me or if I see them about to make a tackle, I'm going to try and block them."
The collective performance led the folks at Pro Football Focus to give Pringle the second-highest grade of the game among offensive players, trailing only Kelce, and it was just further evidence that while he's a regular nowadays on the roster, the former undrafted free agent is still taking advantage of every single day.
"If they put me out there, I'm going to execute at a high level. I'm just being me and applying pressure [on the opponent] throughout four quarters," Pringle said. "[Coach Reid is] a Hall of Fame coach and Patrick is the best quarterback in the league, so to see my offseason training working and to gain trust from them is a blessing."