HOOVER, Ala. - After speaking to a group of high school athletes Saturday afternoon at the National Select 7-on-7, Buffalo Bills first-round pick Marcel Dareus and former Alabama teammate and fellow first round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, Julio Jones, said they are ready to get to work.
"This is the longest I have gone without playing football in my entire life," Dareus said. "I have waited so long to get to this point and have this opportunity that I can't wait anymore."
With the lockout reaching Day 130 without resolution, the players have grown frustrated.
"This is just isn't how the dream was supposed to go," Dareus said. "You don't have a contract, you don't have the money you thought was coming, you aren't out there with your new teammates working. You are really reduced to just trying to stay in shape and working out."
Dareus said that Bills player representative, George Wilson, has reached out to him and gave him encouragement.
"We have the same agent," Dareus said. "And we have gotten together a few times and been working out, him and the 49ers player rep Takeo Spikes have been helping me though this."
Jones has spent time this offseason with his teammates as well.
"Matt Ryan and Roddy White have been great," Jones said. "Matt has had me over to his house and we have been working to develop some chemistry."
Jones said that the pair has helped him fill in the blanks from his playbook.
"I was fortunate to get a playbook while the lockout was lifted for those few days," Jones said. "But it didn't have all the materials that I needed about how to be getting ready in the offseason, so those guys have been helping me fill in the blanks."
The embrace that Jones has received from the leaders of his team has been a pleasant surprise, according to the 6-foot-3 receiver.
"Some guys don't want to help you because they think you don't know anything," Jones said. "But Matt has been a really cool guy."
And while both were high profile players that were among the first to be selected in the draft, neither said they felt pressure to perform right away.
"It's football," Jones said. "I have been doing this for 12 years of my life. I know that you need to be more precise on the next level but I am a hard worker and I know that I can be a great player."
As for Dareus, he wants to get back out there for an altogether different reason.
"It's been so long I don't know how nasty I am anymore."