The past couple of months have been a whirlwind for Atlanta's rookie class, but on Thursday night as they put on their red and black uniforms, things became surreal for them.
"It was a dream come true," fourth-round selection De'Vondre Campbell said. "The Falcons gave me an opportunity that 31 other teams passed up on, so just being here was an honor. Putting this uniform on and representing myself and this organization as a whole was big. This is something you dream about as a kid. Even some of the guys I used to look up to and watch on TV and I am out here playing with these guys, it's really major."
All of their hard work and dedication leading up to this point would be put on display for all to see, and of course nerves were to be expected.
"I was a little bit nervous, but a lot of the older guys really helped me out by telling me 'Ball is ball, no matter what level,' it was kind of hard to believe," second-round LB Deion Jones said following the game. "It finally sunk in that I'm on an NFL team."
Nonetheless, the Rookie Club proved that they were ready to play from the get-go.
"It's a good group and they see how hard they have to battle and strain," head coach Dan Quinn said. "There's definitely some tired rookies. We're just getting rolling with those guys. They're ready to play."
After many long days of XFINITY Training Camp practice, tight end Austin Hooper couldn't wait to face a new opponent.
"Going through camp, you are practicing a lot so finally being able to go out there against different colored jerseys was pretty fun," he said.
And all of it came full circle for J.D. McKissic, in particular, when his first NFL play resulted in a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"It really hit me (Thursday) for the first time," McKissic said. "Coming into Flowery Branch, it really didn't hit me until now— it was crazy."