FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta's first-round pick Takkarist McKinley was able to participate in the 11-on-11 portion of practice for the first time since being drafted back in April.
The pass-rusher out of UCLA underwent shoulder surgery this offseason and missed all of Atlanta's offseason workout program due to an NFL rule that prohibits players from being in attendance until they're finished with the academic calendar year.
Prior to Tuesday's practice, McKinley had been limited to individual work as the team has a detailed plan in place on how they'll work the rookie back to full participation.
"It felt great," McKinley said. "I was nervous. It was my first time in pads since November. To be able to go out there and play football again, it felt real good."
Once McKinley got the green light from coach Dan Quinn, in his mind, it was time for him to get on the grass and show the fast, physical player that he is.
"I got the green light," McKinley said. "Whenever they put me out there, I just go as hard as I can. The biggest thing is to play fast. I understand coming in as a rookie I'll make a few mistakes here and there, but as long as I'm playing fast and hustling to the ball, I'll be good."
As for Quinn's evaluation of McKinley's performance during team drills, Atlanta's head coach was just happy to see the 21-year-old get to participate in the real action with his teammates.
"For him, it was good to be back with his guys getting the huddle and playing," Quinn said. "He hasn't done that for a while. He didn't get the access to go into minicamp and do that or even here the first few days. Just being back with the guys and playing some you know call it real football not just drills by himself. We're just getting started with him."