Prank text gives Packers' Robert Tonyan cut-down day scare

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There's life on the NFL roster bubble, and then there's what Robert Tonyan went through on cut-down day.

The first-year tight end, who spent the final month of last season on the Green Bay Packers' practice squad, wasn't one of those players who avoided Lambeau Field all day on Saturday as teams made their final roster cuts.

The 24-year-old went about his routine: a workout, something to eat in team dining and a little film work. By that time, it was about 1:30 p.m. -- or 90 minutes before the cut-down deadline. He had not heard a word, which usually means good news, so he went back to the hotel where players on the bubble who haven't found permanent living arrangements stay.

Tonyan was in the middle of a video game in receiver Jake Kumerow's room when a text from an unfamiliar number showed up on his phone at 2 p.m. -- one hour before final cuts. The text said to bring his team-issued iPad, the modern-day version of a playbook, and report to Lambeau Field.

"I just handed [Kumerow] the phone and he goes, 'Noooooooo,'" Tonyan said.

"I was like, 'Man I didn't even get a call. I got a text.'"

A dejected Tonyan left the hotel and made the short drive back to the stadium.

"I guess Jake talked to his agent and he was like, the text message seemed suspicious," Tonyan said. "But in that moment you're not thinking that. You're thinking, 's---.'"

It turned out to be a prank that no one -- including tight ends coach Brian Angelichio -- was aware of until later. "I saw coach Ang first, and he was like happy to see me," Tonyan said. "And I'm like, 'All right, you're happy to say bye? That's unfortunate.'"

It much the same when he began seeing others on the third-floor administrative offices.

"I went up there and they were like, 'Congratulations,'" Tonyan said. "I'm like, 'What the hell is going on? Why is everyone happy up here? I'm coming in to turn in my stuff. I got the text.'"

Of course, no one knew what text Tonyan was talking about. It did not come from a 920 number, which is Green Bay's area code. Tonyan said team director of security Doug Collins eventually discovered the source of the text but would not say who sent it.

Instead of that being the end for Tonyan, it turned out to be just the beginning. He also survived the roster moves the Packers made on Monday, when they signed linebacker Korey Toomer and running back Darius Jackson. To make room, they placed Kumerow on injured reserve because of the shoulder injury he suffered in Week 2 of the preseason and released cornerback Herb Waters.

The 6-foot-5, 237-pound Tonyan solidified his roster spot with four receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown catch (from backup quarterback Tim Boyle) in the Packers' preseason finale. Tonyan's performance and potential meant the Packers kept four tight ends and jettisoned veteran fullback Aaron Ripkowski. Tonyan could be used in an H-back role -- just another position that the former quarterback-turned-receiver at Indiana State could play.

"That's why he's so versatile as a tight end," Boyle said. "You learn the game easier as a quarterback because you understand things conceptually; you don't just learn a specific route. What helps him is he can learn a concept and understand what we're attacking and he can adjust his route accordingly."

As for the rest of cut-down day, after Tonyan recovered from his scare, the first call he made was to his mother, Tammy. It was her birthday.

"It was good to give her that call and give her that birthday present," Tonyan said. "So now I've actually got to get her an item. It was nice to call her and share an emotional moment with her. ... She's been there for me since I've been playing in middle school. For it to be on her birthday, I can't be thankful enough."

That item might be a No. 85 Packers jersey.

"Definitely got to get her one of those," Tonyan said.