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Fullback Jake Nordin, left, leads the way for tailback Jahvid Best on a sweep at the Detroit Lions practice facility in Allen Park, Mich. (Associated Press)

Nordin looking to make it with Lions at fullback

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Ever since Jake Nordin first tried out with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois University, the tight end has been cut more times than a nervous butcher.

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But the former Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City standout keeps defying the odds and continues to catch on with another team. He has worn the helmets of six NFL teams in training camp, preseason games or the regular season in his career.

This is his NFL timeline:

2007: Signed with the New England Patriots on May 8 and was cut on July 17. Signed by the Washington Redskins on July 30 and was cut on Sept. 1. Signed to the New York Giants practice squad Sept. 4 and was released on Sept. 11. Signed to the Baltimore Ravens practice squad on Sept. 18, was released on Sept. 25, was re-signed by the Ravens to their practice squad on Nov. 1, then was signed to the Ravens active roster on Dec. 29.

2008: Re-signed by the Ravens on April 28 and was waived on July 24. Signed by the Detroit Lions practice squad on Aug. 31, was released on Nov. 19, and then re-signed to the practice squad again on Nov. 26.

2009: Released by the Lions Aug. 14. Signed by the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 16, and then was released Sept. 5. Signed and played with the Las Vegas Locomotives in the United Football League. After the UFL season, he was again signed to the Lions practice squad Dec. 1, and then signed to the active roster on Dec. 12.

2010: Re-signed with the Lions as an exclusive rights free agent March 16.

Nordin, 26, has never made an opening-day roster following an entire training camp. He usually has been signed by a team with a need following an injury. Or he has been in training camp and cut before the season begins.

"Camp has been crazy this year," said Nordin by telephone Wednesday. "It's been a lot of long days with a lot of hard work. We watch film until 9:30 p.m. and then we go to bed. We just broke camp (Wednesday)."

Nordin was the Lions' starting fullback in the preseason opener Aug. 14 at Pittsburgh. He played the entire second half of the team's second preseason game Aug. 21 at Denver.

Nordin dressed for the final four games of the season with the Lions as an H-back (a combination of a tight end and fullback) last season and caught two passes for 26 yards. He used only as a tight end in college. Now, he is listed as a fullback on the Lions' roster and has moved up the depth chart to No. 2 behind Jerome Felton.

"I've practiced carrying the ball a little bit in practice," said the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Nordin. "But I really haven't taken a handoff before that since high school."

The Lions might be the perfect fit for Nordin. The team doesn't possess a standout tight end or fullback and Nordin's chances of making the opening-day roster appear to be improving each day because he can play both positions.

"I think the fact that I can play tight end or fullback and also on all the special teams is in my favor," he said. "I don't know what my chances are of making the team, but I'm working my butt off and we'll see what happens."

The Lions could decide to only go with just one fullback and three tight ends to start the season, decreasing Nordin's chances of starting the season in uniform. But Nordin's ability to also play special teams may make it hard for the Lions to cut him.

And if he is cut again?

"I'll move on and keep trying," he said. "Hopefully, I'll make it here. I like it here a lot. But if not, maybe there's another team that can use me."

Well, there are still plenty of helmets he hasn't worn yet.

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