Paul Fanaika was out of the NFL for over year before the Arizona Cardinals signed him back in April. His last playing time was back in 2011 with the Seattle Seahawks. He played in three games that year.
Despite the elongated time off, Fanaika had his mind stayed on football, knowing that one day another team would come a calling.
That team being the Cardinals.
“Obviously it’s tough not being in the game of football, but I just kept training, kept on pushing, waited [and] fortunately the Cardinals called me and when they called me I came running,” Fanaika said.
Since graduating from Arizona State University in 2009, Fanaika’s been with the Eagles, Redskins, Browns, Seahawks and now the Cardinals. Fanaika feels all the experience he’s gotten from his former teams has prepared him well for what he’s stepped into with the Cardinals.
With right guard Daryn Colledge out with an injury, Fanaika’s been given the keys to that spot and first team reps while Colledge heals up.
“Just having all those experiences with those other teams has helped me out a lot, especially at this point in my career,” Fanaika said. “Coming in here, just looking for an opportunity and getting that opportunity.”
“It’s unfortunate that Daryn’s down, but you know the next guy’s gotta pickup the offense,” Fanaika said. “So the best thing I can do is be ready when they call my name.”
Fanaika’s taken to the opportunity quite well according to head coach Bruce Arians. In fact, Fanaika’s done so well in his short time here that there may well be a competition between he and Colledge for that starting spot at right guard.
“I think anytime you get the exposure he’s [Fanaika] gotten, and do that well with it, the guy that’s behind you that’s hurt [Colledge], he needs to get back out there,” Arians said.
Fanaika’s natural position is the guard position, but he’s played a lot of tackle in his career. Arians believes the reason why a guy like Fanaika’s been out of work this long is because these kind of situations normally happen to guards.
“You get a guy in a phone booth and all of a sudden the game comes to him, and he’s been out in space as a tackle most of his career and you put him in a phone booth and he’s a pretty good player,” Arians said. “You really root for those guys. This is a chance, you might have thought you were done and here you are you might be starting for us, and playing well, playing at a high level.”
Being out of the game that long and now back in it has given Fanaika a true appreciation for the chance he’s been given with the Arizona Cardinals.
“Oh definitely,” Fanaika said. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. It definitely makes you appreciate the opportunities that you get. You just want to grab hold and never let it go when you get those opportunities, because you never know if it’s gonna be your last opportunity or not.”