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Need to Know: Redskins’ Smith enjoys his pro debut

Aug 16, 2015, 5:53 AM EDT

Preston Smith vs. Browns

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 16, four days before Washington Redskins play the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field.

Smith enjoys his pro debut

RICHMOND—The Redskins drafted Preston Smith in the second round, hoping that the Mississippi State product would battle Trent Murphy for the starting job at right outside linebacker. Perhaps Smith would come off of the bench but he was expected to be a major part of the team’s pass rush.

But then the team signed Junior Galette, who had 22 sacks the last two years playing for the Saints. With Smith having some rookie struggles in practice, his role on the team was quite up in the air.

That was before the Redskins’ preseason opener against the Browns last Thursday. Smith started the game in place of the resting Ryan Kerrigan. The rookie recorded a team-high six tackles and a sack.

“It felt great out there to get our feet wet, to finally get a first sack in an NFL game especially in a preseason game, my first NFL game,” he said after the game. “It was a great feeling to go out there and finally string some pass-rush together and get a sack and get home to the quarterback.”

It should be noted that Smith’s sack came late in the third quarter against Browns players who are vying for practice squad jobs. Still, the fact it gives him a confidence boost is a positive.

As noted, the depth chart at outside linebacker is crowded with Kerrigan, who just signed a big contract extension, Galette, and Murphy and Smith, the team’s last two second-round draft picks. Kerrigan is going to play nearly every snap so the other three will have to find a way to get on the field.

Smith really doesn’t have much to worry about if he can get the job done. If he can rush the passer against front-line blockers they will find a way to get him on the field in passing situations. It’s possible that all four of the outside backers will be on for some nickel plays, perhaps with Murphy lining up on the inside and Smith on the line in a three-point stance.

The Redskins had 36 sacks last year, tied for 21st in the NFL. Over a quarter of those sacks, 10, came in one game against the Jaguars. They are looking to get to the quarterback more consistently this year. It will be up to new defensive coordinator Joe Barry to utilize the talent on the roster to make that happen and Smith could be a big part of it.

Timeline

—Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was born on this date in 1988.

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:35 a.m.; Practice 3:05 p.m.

—It’s been 231 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 28 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Lions @ Redskins 4; final cuts 20; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 39

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In case you missed it

  1. troylok - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    I know they are trying to keep the defense plain vanilla for the preseason but I saw some breakdowns in the fundamentals: poor tackling, loss of contain, not coming off blocks, etc. I am not just talking about rookies. D. Hall flubbed a tackle. The free safety had deep zone and lost containment of Manziel. I have a lot of worries about Berry’s defense – not just the pass rush.

    • bangkokben - Aug 16, 2015 at 3:46 PM

      No worries here. They can’t work on live tackling in practice so a guy like Hall is going to be rusty. As much as everyone knocks these preseason games for injury, even the vets need them as an adjustment to actual game speed and force. The same thing goes for the loss of contain and not fighting through blocks. The free safety on the Manziel TD has to learn that through the game – Trent Robinson I believe. Houston Bates never won his one-on-one match-up on the first TD and then lost contain. The guy is an undrafted rookie. Later in the game he came up with back to back sacks. Evan Spencer, the 6th round pick drafted for teams, was the guy that THREE missed on the 3rd down after the Garcon drop. The coaches are experimenting with different guys in different looks. No need to jump to snap judgements.

  2. redskinscaio - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:51 AM

    I really Preston and I see him playing more snaps than Gillette when it’s all said and done.

    • redskinscaio - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:52 AM

      I really like Preston and I see him playing more snaps than Gillette when it’s all said and done at the end of this season. He was a great pick. HTTR

  3. redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 16, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    I don’t think the loaded OLB position is going to affect getting these guys playing time. When they need to but Kerrigan, Galette, Murphy, and Smith on the field; Smith will be playing along the line. I know he was in a NT spot on at least one 3rd and long play. The guy is 6’5 and 270 so it won’t be much of a challenge playing him on the line during obvious passing situations.

  4. redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:09 PM

    One point to make about this whole TE situation. Why not look to moving to a spread offense to stave off this deficiency? If we are loaded at WR as many claim then let’s add a Grant or Crowder in with the starting three along with Reed. This will force the defense into a nickel package. The key of course is the running backs need to block well in these formations. I liked watching Chris Thompson picking up some linebackers on a few plays Thrusday. I didn’t expect him to be blocking so well at this point. If he and Jones can hold their own blocking defenders out then the team could include a pretty dangerous spread formation on many downs. My concern is if Gruden is even willing to entertain playing a spread offense in some game situations.

    • CHRIS - Aug 16, 2015 at 6:28 PM

      Because with Griffen…the running game opens up the passing game…need a TE in there that can block.

  5. CHRIS - Aug 16, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Trade Murphy for a TE. We need a TE bad!!

  6. bangkokben - Aug 16, 2015 at 6:57 PM

    Is this thing on?

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