QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- At this time last year Jack Cornell was only days away from becoming a Super Bowl champion and soaking in a rare opportunity as a rookie.
"It's a once in a lifetime experience, but hopefully not a once in a lifetime experience," Cornell said of the NFL's biggest game.
"It's something that unless you're really in it and doing it, it's hard to describe."
What a difference a year makes.
Cornell was released by the Baltimore Ravens in August, but two and a half weeks later found a new NFL home, with the Oakland Raiders
"In the NFL people think sometimes it's just all about the money, (the players) are just going to get paid, but it's not," Cornell explained.
"You have to be extremely competitive to survive in this league and I think we have a very competitive team that fights. I think that showed throughout the season."
The Quincy native is spending a large chunk of the off-season in his hometown and going through rigorous daily workouts with Brian Fox at ABF Training.
"The biggest thing with him is that he has to play 16 games and that's a lot longer than high school and college. (He needs) to sustain that strength and endurance through the entire season so he's just as strong at the end of the season that he is at the beginning," Fox said.
"We obviously want him to be as strong as he can going into the season, therefore he can go to (training) camp and really be at the highest level that he can be."
Cornell says earning permanent employment in the NFL doesn't necessarily mean being able to impress the coaches in the weight room.
"In this day in age it doesn't matter how much you can bench press and it doesn't matter what you're one-rep max is. All that matters is that you can 'ball,'" Cornell said.
"That's what we're trying to do is just become a better athlete, stronger, more agile and faster, and have it pay off on the field."
Cornell heads back to the Bay Area in April for his third season as a professional.
If all goes according to plan, the days of finding himself a regular on the practice squad will end and a fixture on Sunday afternoon's becomes the norm.
"Every year I've just tried to get better, and I've always seem to be able to progress, and take my game to another level year-in and year-out," Cornell noted.
"I think that's what's kept me at this level and got me to this point."
Cornell was active for three games last season which might not seem like much, but it's enough for him to get a year's credit towards his NFL pension.
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