Who is Patriots receiver Brian Tyms?

Brian Tyms finished his touchdown run in the stands at FedEx Field. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

LANDOVER, Md. -- The New England Patriots had just been crunched in their preseason opener and there weren't too many silver linings to be found. Long shot wide receiver Brian Tyms was one of them, however, and he seemed genuinely surprised at the attention he was generating from reporters in the cramped locker room at FedEx Field.

After all, just a few weeks ago, he was looking for work.

Tyms was signed by the Patriots on July 27, four days into training camp, which makes his standout effort Thursday night -- 5 receptions for 119 yards and 1 touchdown -- all that much more improbable. It had many in New England asking "Who is Brian Tyms?" And also, "Could there be a spot on the Patriots for him?"

The 6-foot-3, 204-pound Tyms remains a long shot to make the roster but it's hard to ignore him after Thursday night, even while acknowledging that he was playing against backups.

So who is Tyms?

This profile by Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Suntinel provides a snapshot of a 25-year-old who had endured a difficult upbringing. Tyms ultimately went to community college and then landed at Florida A&M, where he walked on to the football team and worked his way to a scholarship and a chance to stick in the NFL.

Tyms' NFL stops have since included the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and now the Patriots.

It's been an uphill climb, with the lowest point coming when he was released by Cleveland in February after the NFL informed the club that Tyms would be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy regarding banned substances.

Tyms didn't want to get too deeply into that regrettable chapter of his NFL journey, as he wondered if he'd get another chance.

"That was a very upset time," he said. "Not being able to play ... I love this game, man. I don't know if it shows, but I love this game. My kids, my fiancé, I brought them out there with me. So not being able to play for five months, it was killing me inside."

Asked what the Browns told him at the time, Tyms said, "I really can't give that information out, but you see, I'm here. It wasn't good."

The Patriots were familiar with Tyms from having game-planned for him prior to the Dec. 8 Patriots-Browns game, as Tyms played three snaps that day and didn't register on the stat sheet.

"I was kind of shell-shocked, seeing all these great players out here, seeing [Tom] Brady of course, and actually playing against him," he said. "I enjoyed it. I almost had a catch, but the quarterback got hit. It was fun."

Now Tyms could be catching passes from Brady, in the preseason at least, which might trace to the fact that Browns general manager Michael Lombardi is now an assistant to the coaching staff in New England. When the Patriots had a few injuries at the position early in camp, Tyms got the call he was waiting for.

On Thursday night, he blew up, drawing the attention of many when he jumped into the stands following his 26-yard touchdown catch. The leap was tweeted out by the NFL on Friday.

"I couldn't stop," Tyms explained. "I didn't want to hit the wall, so I just tried to jump but I jumped too far with so much momentum. I didn't really mean to try to celebrate like I'm king of the world. I just couldn't stop."

Tyms doesn't want his NFL dream to stop any time soon, but knows he's living on the edge. He said he plans to have his kids and fiancé come to town in a few weeks, but realizes there are no guarantees he'll even still be on the team.

So he'll enjoy it while it lasts, and if he keeps playing like he did on Thursday, perhaps he'll get another chance somewhere else.

"I'm trying to find a role," he said of his brief time with the Patriots. "It's a great team and I'm just trying to show these guys I belong. That's the most important thing with a winning team, just earning respect."