Among the six teams he has been with in the past two-plus years, Carolina Panthers right tackle Mike Remmers has been in three different training camps, on three different 53-man rosters and on three different practice squads.
By all measures, Remmers, 25, has been passed over by most talent evaluators he’s come across. He didn’t get a scholarship out of high school, didn’t get an invitation to the combine and didn’t get drafted out of Oregon State.
Remmers is getting his first legitimate shot as a starter in the NFL with Carolina, and through four games at right tackle he has yet to allow a sack of Cam Newton or Derek Anderson.
It must feel good to stick it to everyone who overlooked him.
“I wouldn’t say it in those words,” Remmers said. “Every team I’ve been with, even though they didn’t put me in, they still gave me a shot. That’s all you can ask for in the NFL is just a shot. Obviously some teams let me go, and it is nice to be able to come here and be playing and to be winning games and having success. I wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for the other teams.”
Remmers’ thankfulness is genuine. In multiple interviews with the Observer since he became the starter at right tackle, Remmers regularly credits his teammates and reflects on how fortunate he is to be in this position.
Anderson, a former Oregon State Beavers quarterback, has known Remmers’ family since Anderson played AAU basketball with Remmers’ older brother, Vic, in eighth grade. They didn’t play together at Oregon State, but Anderson watched Rimmers on Saturdays once Anderson made the NFL.
“He’s a guy who works hard and understands it’s not easy,” Anderson said. “Through what he’s been through, a lot of guys would have probably already given up. It’s a testament to hard work.”
An Oregon State legacy
Going to Oregon State was Remmers’ birthright.
His father, Wally, played for the Beavers in the mid-1970s, and his older brother, Vic, played basketball there from 2002-2006. But the Beavers weren’t exactly ready to give a full ride to a high school senior offensive lineman who stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 220 pounds.
“I probably wouldn’t have given myself a scholarship,” said Remmers, who did not get a single scholarship offer.
Remmers qualified academically and was given the opportunity to be a preferred walk-on for OSU. He redshirted his freshman season, and when starting right tackle Tavita Thompson was ruled ineligible to begin the 2008 season, Remmers started the first seven games.
After the season, Oregon State gave Remmers a full scholarship. He started every game for the rest of his college career, eventually playing left tackle in 2011. His 44 career starts ranked sixth in Beavers’ history at the time of his graduation.
But the Beavers got worse as a team each season Remmers was there. They went from 9-4 in Remmers’ redshirt freshman season to 3-9 in his final year.
Remmers worked out at his pro day but didn’t get an invitation to the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. He didn’t even get an invitation to a regional combine, something any decent D-I college player usually gets.
“I don’t know. I can’t tell you,” Remmers said. “I guess I just didn’t do as well as I should have. We didn’t do as well my junior and senior years as a whole team, and I don’t know if that had something to do with it.”
Nineteen offensive tackles were selected in the 2012 draft, and Remmers was not among them. The Denver Broncos were the first team to give Remmers a chance in the NFL when they signed him as an undrafted free agent.
‘One hotel to the next’
“My whole NFL career has been one hotel to the next, because you can never be too certain,” Remmers said this week.
He usually lives in extended stay hotels because those have appliances he can use. He did it in Denver, and then Tampa Bay and then San Diego.
Remmers played in one game with the Chargers in 2013 before suffering a leg injury. He was later cut and picked up by the Vikings, where he finished out the 2013 season and went into 2014 on the practice squad.
The Rams liked what they saw out of Remmers in September and signed him off the Vikings’ practice squad. He lived in an extended stay again in St. Louis when his new iPhone 6 fell out of his sweatshirt pocket while he was washing his hands and took a dive into the toilet.
“Luckily Apple makes a great product,” Remmers said. “I pulled it out and everything worked fine.”
Two weeks later, the Panthers signed him off the Rams’ practice squad and onto their active roster, and everything has worked out fine since.
According to the football analytics site Pro Football Focus, Remmers is the 24th best tackle in the league among all tackles who have played at least a quarter of their team’s snaps, a low threshold but the only one Remmers meets with just four starts this season.
PFF has given Remmers a positive grade in three of his four starts, with the only negative grade coming last week against the Browns when he allowed two quarterback hits. But through four games he has not allowed a sack.
Remmers’ predecessor, Nate Chandler, allowed seven sacks in 12 games and had three positively graded games before going down with a leg injury.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Remmers has earned an opportunity to compete for the right tackle job next season.
“Very much so, he has. Without a doubt in my mind,” Rivera said. “And he’ll be one of the guys competing. He’s earned that opportunity. We have a thing that we’ve been saying here, ‘earn the right.’ Well he’s earned that right, and he most certainly will get that opportunity.”
Though he’s thankful, Remmers isn’t looking too far into the future.
“It’s just such an honor to be able to go out there and play a regular-season NFL game,” Remmers said. “It’s is a very big deal, and it’s such a privilege, and I enjoy every single play that I get out there. I’ve been trying to enjoy it because the NFL doesn’t last long. You can only play so long, so I try to make the most of it.”
Asked about Remmers, rookie right guard Trai Turner paused and called Remmers over to his locker. He wanted Remmers to hear the good things he had to say about him; how Remmers has been a great teammate, how he’s taught him techniques and what to expect at the guard position.
They fist bump and Remmers says thanks, then Turner divulges the best piece of advice he’s gotten from Remmers this season.
“He’s been through a lot,” Turner said. “He’s been with a few different teams and been in the NFL for a few years. At the end of the day, take each week and enjoy each week. Your job is not safe no matter what round you were picked, how long you’ve been there, injuries, all that. You have to go out there and have fun each week. I can honestly say, since I’ve known him, I’ve been doing that.”