PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Takkarist McKinley saw his first NFL game action on Sunday during the Falcons' 17-13 exhibition loss and it didn't take long for the rookie pass-rusher to show off the speed and intensity that's been attached to his name since Atlanta drafted him in April.
Despite seeing limited snaps, McKinley made the most of his time on the field after entering the game in the third quarter. This was the first time Atlanta's first-round pick had played in a game since his last collegiate game playing for UCLA on Nov. 26, 2016.
Head coach Dan Quinn wanted to see more from his pass rush after the team's first preseason outing against the Dolphins, and McKinley provided a boost.
"He was very excited to get going," Quinn said. "He played a little bit at right end in our nickel package and a little bit on the punt return game. For him, getting his first NFL action was exciting for him. It was good having him out there."
McKinley showed flashes of his speed coming off the edge – something the Falcons are counting on from him for him to add to the unit that already possesses the NFL's 2016 sack leader – Vic Beasley.
Upon being drafted by the Falcons, McKinley proclaimed that he "had the best motor" in his draft class. That effort was on display at Heinz Field when he ran across the field to chase down Steelers quarterback Josh Dobbs and apply pressure.
More than one Falcons debut
Another defensive lineman who saw their first action as a Falcons player was Jack Crawford, who signed this spring in free agency. Crawford was also pleased with what he saw from McKinley.
"I think Takk is right on schedule of where he's supposed to be," Crawford said. "He's still a rookie, he's young [but] he's adjusting quickly. I think the more plays he gets in this game, the more confidence he is going to build and he's going to be a factor."
Speed and a relentless mindset are two necessities to be a pass-rusher on Quinn's team, and although it's only a small sample size to go off of, McKinley showed that's exactly what he'll bring to the table.
"We were encouraged by his first time out here with the guys," Quinn said.
The Falcons wrap up the preseason with two homes games on Aug. 26 and Aug. 31.