A minor knee injury that removed him from Thursday's game didn't take away from Niles Paul's excitement to be back in a football game.
Nearly one year to the day that Washington Redskins tight end Niles Paul suffered a gruesome ankle break in the 2015 preseason opener, the sixth-year Nebraska product was back on the field Thursday evening against the Atlanta Falcons, eager to get back into a workflow that had him listed as the team's No. 1 tight end prior to his injury.
Check out the top photos from the Washington Redskins' 2016 Preseason Week 1 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons Aug. 11, 2016, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
"It felt amazing," Paul said. "I had to shake out some of the bugs, it's been a year since I've had contact, so I was a little nervous but I felt like I was starting to find a groove, then they pulled me early, but that's just part of the preseason."
Paul was removed out of the game for precautionary reasons after he suffered a hyperextended knee injury that Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said shouldn't keep him out of the team's next practice on Saturday.
"I got rolled up on it a little bit and it felt weird, I tried to run it off and I was fine," Paul said.
Even though Paul is listed as the No. 3 tight end on the unofficial depth chart, he was out on the field with the first-team offense, even making an appearance at fullback as Gruden has previously noted could happen upon occasion this year.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins was perfect on the opening drive, connecting on all five of his pass attempts for 39 yards. But Matt Jones couldn't get into a groove, gaining just one yard on two carries.
"I think we looked a little rusty and we've got to be a lot better," Paul said. "I know it's preseason, but I know we can do a lot better, obviously it was the first game and we were shaking some of the rust off and got things going."