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RICHMOND – The impending suspension of Jarvis Jenkins coupled with the injury to Adam Carriker has necessitated some shuffling along the Redskins’ defensive line.
One of the primary benefactors? Chris Neild.
Chris Baker served as the backup nose tackle in 2012, but he’s been moved to left defensive end because of Jenkins and Carriker.
Which, of course, opened up the job No. 2 nose tackle job behind starter Barry Cofield. Which now belongs to Neild.
“You never want anyone to get injured, but it’s, ‘Next man up,’” Neild said. “Wherever there’s a spot available, it’s going to get filled. I’m the next man up. Chris [baker] did a real good job last year backing up the nose. And I’m just trying to fill in this year and do a good job."
With Baker playing end and Cofield the unquestioned starter at nose tackle, Neild’s only competition appears to be Ron Brace, who was drafted in the second round by the Patriots in 2009 but only earned seven starts in four seasons.
Like Brace, Neild is also looking for a new beginning of sorts. He had a strong rookie season in 2011, collecting 10 tackles and two sacks. But the former West Virginia standout suffered a torn ACL last August and missed his entire sophomore season.
“Making up for a lot of lost time,” Neild said. “I never had a serious injury like that before, but once got acclimated in OTAs, I felt comfortable. I feel like I didn’t miss a step.”
Neild was cleared to participate fully in practice the day before OTAs began in May. The 25-year-old said he quickly moved beyond the mental hurdle that often comes with returning from significant injury and can now just focus on his assignments.
“The mental hurdle is there if you let it affect you,” Neild said. “The whole thing of having an offensive lineman in front of me trying to block me, I guess it was a hurdle at first. But I never really let it affect me. I was comfortable from the jump.”