Evan Engram came off the field on Aug. 11 buzzing about his first NFL experience.
“It really kind of hit me in that moment,” he said of his initial taste of professional football, the stadium and the lights and the atmosphere. He’d made it, a childhood dream come true.
So his second game on Monday night will be a little bit more back-to-business for the Giants’ first-round pick? Focused more on execution than emotion?
“No,” the 22-year-old tight end said. “It’s still going to be kind of nerve-wracking and exciting. I’m really pumped about it. It was a really cool feeling out there, getting out there and having your uniform on and being out there warming up . . . I don’t think that’s ever going to go away.”
Engram said he tries to use that adrenaline to his advantage.
“I think it adds to my game, the eagerness to do well and get out there and run around to make plays,” he said. “I think all that adds into my performance.”
There are drawbacks, though.
“I had to lock in,” he said. “Just being out there, I was kind of wide-eyed and a little nervous. So being in the huddle, I kind of had to slow down, lock in, hear the play call, get to the line. Just kind of slow everything down. In practice, we go through reads and just do all my stuff I usually do. But in the game, sometimes those nerves will build up, especially being a rookie and your first time out there, definitely stuff flies over your head.”
Engram played at Ole Miss in the SEC, so he’s been in plenty of games in front of large crowds. Even with MetLife Stadium far from filled to capacity, last week’s game was different, though. And it started with a song.
“In college, we never stood out there for the national anthem. We were always in the locker room,” he said. “I don’t know, just the atmosphere and realizing that we have an NFL shield on our jersey and an ‘NY’ on our helmets. So that just raised the level. Playing a great team in Pittsburgh, I grew up watching all these teams and watching guys who we’re going up against and I’m out there on the field with them. So it’s definitely just a different level. Emotionally and physically and X’s and O’s, it’s just a whole other level.”
And now he gets to do it again.
“I’m really excited,” he said in anticipation of his second preseason game. “I can’t wait for Monday night.”