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You Can't Keep A Good Noriaki Kinoshita Down

Sometimes all it takes is a little thing for me to remember why I'm such a fan of rooting for the underdog. It's the stories of those who claw and snarl their way from the bottom of the barrel to daylight that make training camps so interesting, and here's another one that's worth checking out.

Anyone remember Noriaki Kinoshita, who signed with the Falcons in hopes of becoming the first Japanese wide receiver ever to make the NFL? Well, his journey seemed to have ended after the team cut him last year, but Kinoshita has no interest in disappearing:

Japanese wide receiver/kick returner Noriaki Kinoshita decided to join the Atlanta Falcons as an International Practice Squad (IPS) player for this upcoming season, the NFL Japan announced Thursday.

Kinoshita, 25, was selected by the NFL club last month for the IPS spot after participating in the IPS training camps in Europe, but has been waiting for an offer for a spring training camp as a free agent, seeking to become the first Japanese-born player to play in the league this fall.

IPS players are guaranteed to be at the club for the entire season but are not allowed to be promoted to active rosters. Kinoshita's challenge to make an NFL roster will resume in 2009.

Basically, Kinoshita will spend the entire season toiling on a glorified practice squad with absolutely no hope of making an NFL roster. After that, he'll try to make a team out of training camp the next year. I don't know about you, but I admire the heck out of the guy. He's not going to be dissuaded from his goal even if he has to set it aside for a year, something that even I'll admit I'd be hesitant to do.

The Falcons are pretty deep at receiver these days, but here's hoping they find a spot for Kinoshita in 2009. I find it impossible not to root for him to make history with a team that's in need of some pleasant pages in its biography.