Before he was an undrafted rookie fighting for a roster spot with the Washington Football Team, Jaret Patterson grew up in Prince George's County kid as a diehard fan of the Burgundy and Gold.
On Thursday night, the former University of Buffalo standout made his preseason debut for Washington, marking the first time he suited up in the uniform of his childhood favorite football team. It was a surreal moment for the 21-year-old.
"It's a blur, man. It's been unreal," Patterson told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay after the game. "It went so quick. But the feeling was unbelievable. I wanted to get the win, but it felt good to get my feet wet. It's just a blessing to be here."
Washington lost the preseason contest, but results of such exhibition contests are largely irrelevant. What matters more is seeing how each individual player performs -- particularly those on the roster bubble -- as head coach Ron Rivera and his staff will have tough decisions to trim this group to 53 guys.
So far, so good for Patterson. The running back played 27 snaps on Thursday for Washington and touched the football on 14 of them, finishing with 70 total yards. Patterson ended the game both as the Football Team's leading rusher and receiver, too.
Patterson's performance was one of the biggest bright spots for Washington on Thursday, something his head coach took notice of.
“He didn’t surprise us. That’s what we saw in the young man," Rivera told reporters postgame. "He had a terrific college career and he’s had a good camp so far. I think we expected him to do some positive things, so it was good to watch.”
Patterson was asked about Rivera's praise for him and the rookie rusher immediately complimented his head coach and the rest of the staff for helping him prepare for his first NFL game. He's not satisfied with his play, either.
"I expected that. Just how my coaches help me prepare throughout training camp," Patterson said. "This is only step one. I'm ready to get back tomorrow and see where I can get better."
Patterson's outing also impressed Washington star pass rusher Chase Young. The two go way back with one another, as they were high school teammates for one season at St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel, Md.
"Y'all are just finding out the stuff I already knew. He's a workhorse. He's a dawg," Young said.
While Young has seen firsthand what Patterson can do on the field for a number of years and said he wasn't surprised by the rusher's outing on Thursday at all, there was one specific aspect of the running back's game that did stand out to the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year.
"He told me he was not surprised [with my performance], but he was surprised that I can catch like that," Patterson said. "Having a guy like that on your side made my confidence level even higher."
Even though Young was pulled from the contest early, along with many of his defensive starters, he remained vocal on the sideline and was truly into the game. When his former Pallotti teammate was on the field, Young repeatedly would yell, "Let's go, 35," Patterson said.
With preseason game No. 1 under his belt, any jitters he may have had about making his professional debut are now gone. Patterson still has some work cut out for him to make the team, but he's buying into the direction the franchise is heading.
"It was good being out there, an unreal feeling. It's just a blessing," Patterson said. "Coach Rivera and this organization, it's headed in the right direction."