After graduating from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, he went on to play for Division II Bowie State before transferring to Hampton, where he walked on, and earned first team All-MEAC honors as a senior in 2010. He went undrafted into the NFL and was cut two separate times by the Lions the last two seasons before being signed to the active roster on Sept. 29.
“You have no choice but to respect a guy like that,” veteran linebacker
“He’s been cut. He’s been told he can’t play in this league. To come in and play the way he has whenever he’s gotten an opportunity is a testament to the type of person he is and how strong he is and the mentality he has and his upbringing. You have to respect that.”
Even Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham had given up hope for Silva at one point.
“He came in as a scout team guy and I was looking to replace him," he said. "Talking to Jim (Schwartz) and Martin (Mayhew) - he just wouldn’t have it any other way. He just kept working.”
Silva was signed from the practice squad to the active roster just days before the Lions Week 4 games vs. Minnesota and was even in the starting lineup. He finished with five tackles and one pass defended.
“Kind of amazing,” Cunningham said.
Silva has earned the nickname "Spider Man" from his coordinator with his lanky 6-foot-3 frame.
“He’s all arms and legs. I mean, he is one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in a long time as coach.
“You know, he started playing well last year in preseason and kind of caught our attention and he’s been working really hard. He knows everything there is to know about the defense. He’s really played well to this point. I hope he keeps it up.”
He did keep it up last week against Seattle, when he started his second career game for the injured
Silva also added four tackles and a fumble recovery that ended the game.
“He made a big play," Schwartz said of Silva. "When they tried to take a deep shot, he got it. He also recovered a fumble at the end. He had a few plays that he could do better on, but he played a very good game.”
Silva said the biggest difference between Silva the practice squad player and Silva the starter has been the mental part of the game. He’s always been able to make plays, but hasn’t always been able to make the calls for the defense.
"Mentally, getting the calls right, making the checks, and being trustworthy and dependable," Silva said. "I've got the skill set, so I've just got to be a trustworthy and dependable guy."
He’s proving he can do that, and is likely to start again Sunday in Jacksonville with
“I’m not taking anything for granted because I understand it’s a business and you’re paid to perform,” Silva said. “I don’t take anything for granted. Not one thing.”