JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rookie Kaleb McGary saw his first game action in Atlanta's final preseason game on Thursday night – a 31-12 win over the Jaguars – and looked as good as advertised.
McGary underwent a cardiac ablation procedure during training camp and missed significant time in the preseason.
After missing the first four games, McGary was "excited" to get going.
While most rookies at this point have worked through the nerves that often come with playing on the NFL stage at first, McGary experienced the feeling many of his rookie teammates felt for himself just a few weeks later.
McGary didn't play as if he was nervous though.
The Falcons' first-round pick out of the University of Washington made several impressive blocks and showed the toughness coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff drafted him to bring to the Falcons' offensive line.
"It awesome I felt like I proved a little something of myself," McGary said of his performance. "It was definitely a feeling of validation knowing I didn't just get my butt kicked the whole time. It was cool."
McGary started at right tackle for the first half and was sidelined for the remainder of the game by Quinn's design. Given that he recently just returned to being able to participate fully in practice, the Falcons want to make sure they follow the progression plan they have in place.
Prior to the heart procedure, McGary was competing for the starting right tackle job with Ty Sambrailo. Following the injuries to McGary and Sambrailo, Matt Gono started getting reps at right tackle and performed well.
Based on how McGary played Thursday night, he made a case that he could possibly be Atlanta's starter in Week 1. Quinn said they'll take it through the practice week before making any decisions at this position. He also noted that due to the level of competition it might not be settled for a few weeks.
The Falcons begin their season on Sept. 8 when they travel to U.S. Bank Stadium to take on the Minnesota Vikings.