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From the Pressbox: Corey Peters living NFL dream

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"This has been one of my lifelong dreams and it's been really great and I have been incredibly blessed to end up in the right situation and the best situation for me, with the coaches and to have them work with me and believe in me. They gave me an opportunity and I think I did some good things and I am incredibly happy with the way things turned out."

Life has been good of late for Corey Peters, a third-year defensive tackle for one of the NFL's two remaining unbeaten teams, the Atlanta Falcons. Peters, who became a starter during his rookie year, has been sidelined thus far this season with an injury that landed him on the league's physically-unable-to-perform list. But that status should change soon.

"It was a little foot issue. It was a stress fracture and I got it taken care of and we are moving forward and been rehabbing and hopefully, if everything continues to progress well,  we'll be ready to play here after the six-week mark," Peters told The Leach Report radio show this week.

Those of us who watched Peters make big play after big play in the toughest league in America are not surprised to see the Louisville Central High School product succeed in the NFL. But he was far from a can't-miss prospect in scouts' eyes when he was preparing for the draft.

Peters eventually did hear his name called in the third round, but there were plenty of anxious moments. That time is captured in a new documentary called "Late Rounders," and it also features the stories of a couple of other ex-Cats in John Conner and Alfonso Smith. You see the hard work that preceded the NFL Scouting Combine, where pro football futures are often determined by 40-yard dash times, weightlifting sessions and one-on-one interviews. And you see the personal stories of these players and the tremendous stress they are under at that time in their young lives.

"I think it turned out pretty good," Peters said of the documentary. "I was pretty nervous with the cameras following us around everywhere including when we were down at the combine but it turned out really well and I am happy with it."

Of course, reliving that combine experience is not exactly fun.

"It's incredible because when you are playing football you have the whole season to prepare for, but with the combine and pro days (when scouts come to a campus), you are training for one day, four hours of work. None of us were really highly touted guys that expected to be first round picks or anything like that, so these combines are really important for us and we can't afford to not have a good showing or not be able to perform at all.

"I have been playing football my entire life and so I still felt butterflies before my first college game and my first pro game here but I have been used to playing football. I have never been trained to come out and run your best 40 time, you only have two shots at it and it's almost like a track meet. I have never really been a track guy so, it was definitely unique for me and it was a difficult experience but one that I think I did okay at," Peters added.

"It was different than anything I had ever been through in my entire life. It was a difficult time because you are nervous about your future and you really want to do well," he continued, "but it is also a great time because it was the first time in my life where the only thing I had to do was train for football. All through high school and college, you go to class and all that good stuff. It was the first time right when you wake up, you go to practice and that was all you had to worry about."

The NFL dream came true for all of the Kentucky guys, as Conner was drafted by the New York Jets and Smith signed a free agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals. But "Late Rounders" also tells the little-known back story of Smith's girlfriend and her battle with a serious illness at the same he was pursuing his NFL dream.

"That was one of the more incredible storylines," Peters noted  "That would have been incredibly difficult for me to deal with something like that in that point in time but I think he handled it well and I know it worked out for him ultimately. But everybody in the documentary has an amazing story and I think that the best thing about the documentary is that is truly shows what guys go through. We didn't know what to expect. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We were going into it blind, like everybody else and even if you are not a UK fan or a Corey Peters fan, it's incredible that you get to see the process."

What was the biggest adjustment for Peters in going from UK to the Falcons?

"Everything is faster in the NFL but I think I was as prepared as a player can be coming out of college. No matter how prepared you are, you are going to be a little behind in things because the speed of the game is different. I also think the speed, it may not be that those guys are faster, because truth be told, a 21, 22-year old kid coming out of college is probably just as strong and fast as a 32-year old that has been in the league a while, but you have to do things faster and have to recognize things faster and that is the difference in the speed of the game," explained Peters. "It is not necessarily guys are moving faster, but guys get smarter and are moving more technical and in the trenches, offensive linemen are a lot better with their hands, so it's a huge step just to work on your craft and get better each and every day."

And what does he miss most about his time at UK?

"I think that those are definitely the best days of my life. That college experience is unmatched by anything. I am a Kentucky guy," he said, "and I will be a Kentucky fan for the rest of my life but in the NFL, you can play for two or three teams so, the loyalty and that sort of thing is different and that is probably why the fans are much more electric and that whole atmosphere is crazy (in college)."

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