Chris Neild Eyes Big Role for Redskins After Injury - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Chris Neild Eyes Big Role for Redskins After Injury

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LANDOVER, Md. -

The Washington Redskins snapped a four-year playoff drought in 2012, riding a seven-game winning streak to close out the regular season behind rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Chris Neild watched the whole thing from the sideline.

"I was dying to get out there last year," Neild said this week in Washington. "They went on a hell of a run at the end of the year and the progress that they made throughout that winning streak carried us into this year."

The former West Virginia University defensive lineman tore his ACL a year ago in the Redskins' preseason and sat for his entire second year rather than join his teammates as he battled for the second-string nose tackle job.  

"The whole year last year, I wanted to be out there," said Neild. "It was rough watching form the sidelines, but getting it from that point of view and watching from the sidelines, you get a different perspective of how the game's played and I took advantage of it. Along with that came the rehab and all of that, so it worked out pretty good and I feel pretty healthy."

Neild wrapped up his second preseason game on Monday night and played the majority of the game as he continues to push himself to prove that he has returned to full health and the best option for Washington's back-up nose tackle.

In truth, he may be asked even more after starter Barry Cofield left Monday's game with what turned out to be a fractured right hand. His absence, for however long, could open more opportunities for Neild, who is currently listed as second string on the team's official website.  

After sitting out for so long, though, Neild isn't taking any opportunity for granted. Sure, he may be getting a real look for significant playing time, but that doesn't mean he's treating this preseason as though his role is set in stone.

"I'm definitely fighting for second string, I'm just going out there playing like I'm fighting for a roster spot," Neild said. "Anybody in my position should go out there and play like that. If you go out there with the mentality like you already made it, then you're probably not going to succeed. I'm going out there, I'm giving it all I've got, I'm trying to put the confidence in these coaches that they don't have to worry about me when I go out there, that there won't be any change in talent."

The time off, while perhaps excruciating to handle at the time, could pay off for Neild with the rehab he did to get back to where he was.

"My legs do feel stronger just because I was rehabbing the entire time," he said. "I'm not 100 percent with the strength of my knee that I had surgery on, but it's definitely getting there. I was training for eight straight months since September, so that helped out a lot as far as my strength and my conditioning."

Next up for Neild and the Redskins is a meeting with the Buffalo Bills on Saturday and perhaps a chance for the third-year player out of WVU to showcase what he can do lining up as a starter right from the opening kickoff. 

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