Redskins eager for preseason opener against Titans
RICHMOND—Two years ago, nobody thought that Chris Neild would make the Redskins’ 53-man roster. Barry Cofield was locked in as the starter and everybody thought that veteran Anthony Bryant would make the team as Cofield’s backup. The conventional wisdom was that Neild, a seventh-round pick who was one selection ahead of Mr. Irrelevant, was headed for the practice squad.
But Neild made the team and he celebrated by sacking Eli Manning twice in the season opener. He did a respectable job playing about 10 snaps per game in relief of Cofield.
Last year in camp he was being challenged by Chris Baker but the competition was cut short when Neild suffered a torn ACL during a practice. That put him on the shelf and Baker took the nose tackle backup job.
It looked like the competition between Neild and Baker would be renewed this year but Baker was moved to defensive end to cover some issues there. Neild still must fend off a challenge from veteran Ron Brace but he said that he’s healthy and prepared.
“I feel great,” the West Virginia alum said. “The reps I get out there I feel like I'm doing pretty well.”
Neild believes that he and the other defensive linemen benefit from the competition they face in practice.
“This type of offense that we go against in practice, you're not going to see much of it throughout the league,” he said. “If you get good against this offensive line, you can really get good against any offensive line because they just run sideline to sideline. It's like everyone else you're playing with is in slow motion.”
Neild is likely to see a lot of playing time when the Redskins take on the Titans on Thursday night. His first game in a year probably won’t feel like slow motion. He said that he was not nervous yet but that would change on Thursday night.
“I don't really feel anything right now,” he said. “When you get in the locker room and put the pads on then it gets a little different.”
“Every game's an opportunity, you've just got to take advantage of it,” he said. “We're going into this game, we're preparing pretty well and I feel really confident.”
Although he is confident, he’s not so sure about being able to duplicate what he did in his NFL debut. The Redskins play the Eagles, who are likely to have a quarterback who is a bit quicker than Eli Manning. Michael Vick is a little tougher for nose tackles to catch.
“(Vick) is a little bit faster than Eli,” he said. “We'll have to see about that.”