Devon Kennard said stepping onto an NFL field was a dream come true for him on Sunday night. But the better moment was the one he experienced as he stepped off the field.
"The best feeling ever is playing in a game and getting validation on what you already knew: You belonged and you can play at this level and you can play with the best of them," Kennard said on Tuesday, two days removed from starting at linebacker for the Giants. "There is a ton I have to improve on and things I looked at on film with the coaches that I'll work on today, but it felt good to get out there and just play and get a feel for the game."
The Giants had two fourth-round picks in the spotlight on Sunday. Running back Andre Williams scored a touchdown and grabbed the headlines, but Kennard was a starter and played well too. He was credited with two defensive tackles, one for a loss. He dropped into coverage. He blitzed. He was an NFL linebacker.
"I got the chance to do a lot of different things and it was good getting the experience, getting in my first game and being able to play," he said.
He also understands that fourth-round picks usually have to wait until the second half to get onto the field in the first preseason game. He'd been playing with the first unit for most of training camp, but actually going into a game with those players was different.
"Just getting the opportunity to be out there with the starters in my first game was awesome," he said. "It's something I don't take lightly. I'm trying to earn that respect each and every day from my teammates and my coaches."