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Keondre Coburn is ready to make the most of his first NFL opportunity

The sixth-round rookie out of Texas is not taking his first preseason game this Sunday against the Saints for granted.

NFL: JUL 23 Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a long offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs are just a few days away from Sunday’s preseason matchup against the New Orleans Saints. While veterans on the team are excited to get back out there, rookies on the roster — like defensive tackle Keondre Coburn — are hoping to prove themselves as they get their first taste of live NFL action.

“It’s my first NFL game, first game in this league, so it will be tense, Coburn said as he spoke to reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “It will be serious. For me, every game will be serious. So, I’m going to go out there and play just like it’s my last. That’s all I can do. Just give it my all.”

Coburn flashed in training camp, displaying the size and power that got the 6-2, 332-pound defensive tackle drafted by the Chiefs in the sixth round of this year’s NFL Draft. While currently serving as added depth to the team’s interior defensive line — which is still missing its best player in All-Pro defensive lineman Chris Jones due to a holdout — the rookie Coburn says he is looking to do whatever is best for the team as he makes his professional debut this Sunday.

“Just do my job,” Coburn said. “I think that’s the number one thing to do is do my job, worry about my keys, do my assignments right. Do whatever I have to do to help the team and help myself. Be good for the team and things like that. I think that’s the main thing I want to focus on. Just playing fast, playing with my hands, being violent, and just playing football.”

However, it’s never easy for rookies, as the talent level from college to the NFL differs immensely. Coburn is aware of this and embraces the Chiefs’ motto of competition, looking to show he belongs in this league.

“It’s the NFL, everybody’s good,” Coburn observed. ”Everybody got here for a reason, so now you just got to work more on your detail, work on more things, and take everything seriously — nothing lightly here and can’t chill. You can’t have breaks and things like that. I realized early that to where every time you step on the field, you got to work no matter what. Everybody’s good, so [it’s about] who’s better.

Fortunately, Coburn has the added benefit of practicing daily against two of the best offensive linemen in the league in center Creed Humphrey and guard Trey Smith — a unique opportunity to get better every day in, which he does not take for granted.

“Every opportunity I get is amazing,” Coburn said of playing against Humphrey in practice. “I’m going against the best in the league, so why not take advantage of all those opportunities, all those reps and details to try to beat him, see what he does good, see what I can do better, things like that. It’s an honor to go against him every time I get a chance to go against him.”

Likewise, the veteran Smith says he loves going against the rookie during practice as well and has been impressed by his “violent” rushing style.

“I love Keondre (Coburn),” Smith told reporters during his press conference on Wednesday. “He’s a great dude, fun to be around, and an extremely hard worker.”

“He’s just doing a good job doing everything asked of him. A lot of it is he’s a big-effort guy, really good at utilizing his hands, and just being violent when he rushes.

At the end of the day, the transition from college to the NFL is one that requires discipline in order to be successful. The Chiefs coaching staff preaches the importance of “routine,” something Coburn has taken to heart in hopes of a successful rookie season to begin his NFL career.

“It’s a routine in this league because if you mess it up, you mess up yourself because at the end of the day this is your job,” Coburn explained. “This is my school; this is everything for me to do so why not take advantage of every opportunity.”

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