The stats don’t show much, just a short line showing two tackles and one assist in a limited preseason game. But Christian Wilkins, the ever-exuberant defensive tackle and first round pick for the Miami Dolphins in the NFL draft knew going into the game that the stats wouldn’t matter as much as getting some playing time under his considerable belt.
Prior to the game, Wilkins said, “I feel like as long as I need to do what I need to do for this team, I don’t get out of myself, don’t get out of this scheme, as long as it matters what I do for this team and the coaches trust me, my teammates trust me and that I know I did my best, it doesn’t matter what other may think. But I know eyes are going to be on me as well and there’s going to be some attention for me.”
And it didn’t take long to get comfortable.
“I wasn’t really (nervous) until the national anthem,” he said. “That was when I first started to feel a little – not nervous but a little anxious, like this is really it, it’s go time. After that first play, I was good. I flushed all that and just started playing football.”
And his boss was paying attention.
“I saw he made a couple plays,” says head coach Brian Flores. “He brought great energy. Those interior guys it’s hard to tell, it really is; he could have been on two blockers the entire game. It’s hard to tell. I’ll let you know tomorrow.”
Wilkins is a 6’-3” 315 pound bundle of energy, making a lasting impression from his very first professional appearance as he nearly body slammed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the stage after his name was called 13th overall at the NFL draft. His enthusiasm and energy is contagious and never-ending, and a welcome addition to the locker room. But make no mistake, Wilkins is serious about his craft and wants to improve.
“I’ve never been more excited to watch a game tape ever I don’t think,” he said after the game. “But I’m really looking forward to it. I’m probably going to watch this tonight before I go to bed so I can see what I did wrong, see what I can improve and just get better. I’m just excited to learn from this game.”
After solid if unspectacular debut, Wilkins is looking forward to the nest round.
“It was pretty good,” he says of his first game as a pro, even if only a short preseason appearance. “I was really excited before the game, my first NFL opportunity. It’s official, I’ve got a game in the books and it feels awesome. I’m just excited now to go watch the tape and learn from this.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
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