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2014 Rookies Enjoyed their First Taste of the NFL

Posted Aug 7, 2014

Three players discussed their first time playing in the league.

Under the bright lights of Qualcomm Stadium, Thursday’s preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys was the rookies’ first pro-game experience.  With a 27-7 victory, their debut was made that much sweeter.

“It was a fun experience running out there,” said linebacker Jerry Attaochu.  “It was one of those moments where I felt like I’m finally here, so it was fun.

“It was mind blowing,” wide receiver Tevin Reese said.  “You always (see games) on Sunday nights on TV but going out there in the stadium, just seeing all the fans and all the lights was a humbling experience.” 

The fans were a special part of the rookies’ NFL debut.  With a crowd of 57,228 fans cheering their team on, Reese said the energy in Qualcomm was electric.

“The fans were great,” he said.  “They showed it when they came out to practices but when they came out here it was great.  When they were in the stadium they just got louder and louder and supported us every minute of the game.”

Seventh round draft selection Reese had one reception for 17-yards from quarterback Kellen Clemens which has been a common sight during training camp.

“Just getting that first catch and being out there with my teammates was just great,” Reese said.

The biggest rookie debut belonged to former Buffalo running back Branden Oliver.  Oliver was signed to the team as an undrafted rookie in May.

Oliver finished his evening with seven rushing attempts for 64 yards and one touchdown.  He averaged just over nine yards per carry with his longest rush coming in at 27-yards.

What was his first NFL touchdown like?

“The touchdown felt great,” Oliver said.  “It was right up the gut and everybody was on that block.  I have to give glory to the guys who were on that block because I didn’t really have to do much but stay vertical.  The cornerback came at the last second, so it was like two yards before I hit the end zone and I kept running my feet and I got in.”

While they’ve had three weeks of training camp, there’s no NFL initiation quite like playing in a game.  Adjusting from the college to pro game can bring about new challenges and unexpected differences that these players recognize.

Jerry Attaochu said adjusting to the mental aspect of the game was the biggest change he’s seen thus far.

“The mental gymnastics and mental strain of when you’re on the field are different,” Attaochu said.

As for Oliver and Reese?  Speed.

“The speed of the game has changed,” Oliver said.  “But Coaches always tell us that we’re going to be alright and (we’ll be fine if we ) just keep doing what we’re doing.”

“Coming from Baylor we ran a lot of fast-paced offense but it was a totally different speed (in the pro game),” Reese said.  Everything moves 100-miles per hour.  Everybody’s as fast as you or even faster.  Everything happens at the snap of a finger.”

The rookies still have three preseason games before the reality of the 2014 NFL season sets in but with one game under their belts, they know there’s always room to improve.

“I have to get a lot better,” Reese said.  “There were moments in the game where I missed blocks and the defense covered me well but I just have to go out there and get better every single day.”

“I just take it one day at a time,” said Oliver.  “I know I’m in the right place but I have to keep getting better each and every day.  You can’t get complacent because there’s more to come.  I have a great group of running back vets in that running back room that I’m going to keep learning from and also Coach Ollie Wilson.”

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