Falcons players on Wednesday reported for 2015 XFINITY® Training Camp, marking the end of a long, eventful offseason.
Atlanta's fifth-round draft pick Grady Jarrett was among the first to arrive for check-in. Fresh off a productive summer workout program, the Clemson graduate is eager to return to the field and officially start his NFL career.
"It was really excited to finally get here and get ready for training camp," Jarrett said. "It's been really good, running, getting in shape, lifting weights. I'm prepared for training camp and ready to get it underway and build our team."
For Jarrett and the other rookies, the NFL preseason training schedule will be an adjustment. While NCAA football teams get roughly a month of practice in before games begin; alternatively, the Falcons are slated to face the Tennessee Titans on Friday, Aug. 14, just a few short weeks from now.
"You got to be ready to go," Jarrett said. "It's coming faster than ever … Just the first game coming up so fast. So you just have to be prepared; got to go out here, work in practice and get your body right."
Jake Matthews certainly remembers what that transition is like. The left tackle was in Jarrett's position last year, and with more experience under his belt, feels a greater sense of comfort.
"I feel a lot more confident," Matthews said. "I've got an understand of what the process is going to be like, what camp is like, what the season is going to be like — just that confidence and better understanding of what to expect. So I'm excited about that."
Matthews has been recovering from foot surgery that repaired a lingering foot ailment that occured at the end of the 2014 season.
"It's different. Never had a surgery or anything like that, but I did all the treatment to the best of my ability," said Matthews, who has been cleared for all physical activities. "I feel good coming back. I feel real confident and ready to go."
On the other end of the age spectrum is veteran offensive guard Chris Chester. Brought on board to play Kyle Shanahan's particular brand of offense, the 32-year-old, now entering his ninth NFL campaign, still feels a sense of excitement when the slate is wiped clean.
"It's exciting; it's like the first day of school," said Chester. "I picked out my outfit and everything."
The Falcons hit the field Friday morning at 10 a.m. for their opening practice, which is open to the public. The full training camp schedule can be viewed here.