There was no chance Albert Wilson would suit up for the Miami Dolphins on the day they faced the Dallas Cowboys. He had every excuse to be frustrated after an injury cut short a breakout season a year ago and another one was keeping him from trying to build on it this year.
Still, his Twitter feed was open early in the morning and at 9:38 a.m. he sent out a familiar message.
“Thankful & Blessed !” he wrote. It’s something which pops up on his Twitter feed almost every day, and it’s as much a reminder for himself as it is a post for everyone else.
He has played in only one of the Dolphins’ last 13 games, but the streak finally might end this weekend. Wilson was limited in practice for the second day in a row Thursday in Davie, but said he feels ready to play Sunday when Miami hosts the Washington Redskins at Hard Rock Stadium. To get through the last two seasons, it has helped to be relentlessly positive.
“I just wanted a new life, I just wanted a better life, I just wanted a happier life,” Wilson said Wednesday after practice at the Miami Dolphins training facility. “It starts with your mind. I always wake up in the morning and you put your mind int he right place, more than likely your body, your day and your actions are going to follow.”
Wilson’s unorthodox path to the NFL made him one of the best success stories in the league last season before he landed on injured reserve. The receiver from Fort Pierce grew up in foster care. He was a lightly recruited quarterback at Port St. Lucie High and wound up moving to wide receiver for the Georgia State Panthers. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and turned success with the Chiefs into a three-year contract with Miami (0-4) last year. Before his season-ending injury, Wilson was leading the league in yards after catch.
A potential return Sunday would give the Dolphins’ lifeless offense a much-needed boost. Although Wilson did also say he felt good enough to play before Miami’s last game against the Los Angeles Chargers last month, a bye week since the 30-10 loss to the Chargers has given Wilson even more time to get fully healthy.
“Going into this bye week really healthy and coming off of it pretty healthy I think is a good thing,” Wilson said.
The earliest example of Wilson’s signature tweet — or at least some variant of it — can be found in 2011, when Wilson was a freshman at Georgia State.
“Up, thankful, slidn,” he wrote in February, then three more times throughout the winter.
“It wasn’t always like this, but for sure over the time I was able to learn and figure out how I want my life to play out,” Wilson said, “so if I can wake up every morning thankful I’ve got the upper hand, it’s a plus on my side.”
Wilson could have sulked long before injuries hampered his development. He spent seven years in the foster care system in Vero Beach. Both his parents were in jail. He taught himself to appreciate the good in a life which could have been difficult, and he could always turn to his sport when it got especially tough.
“The mind, I feel like, is a powerful thing,” Wilson said. “I feel like if you train it, if you work on it to be the way you want it to be, it will be.”
“Thankful & Blessed,” used to be an occasional thing to pop across Wilson’s Twitter feed. Now it’s a near-daily occurrence, a message he has posted too many times to count since he went on injured reserve a little less than a year ago.
He tweeted it the day he went on IR last fall. He tweeted it again Tuesday. Odds are, he will tweet it again Sunday, whether or not it’s the day he finally is back on the field.
“I come in here and put my best foot forward every day,” Wilson said. “I’m just trying to get back on the field to help my teammates win.