This season, the Redskins’ nose tackle is hoping to follow up his quality rookie year by adding some more muscle to his 6-foot-2, 313-pound frame.
Neild, a Stoudsburg (Pa.) High School graduate, recently talked with his hometown newspaper — the Pocono Record — about his rookie season and what he’s doing to improve in 2012.
The Redskins took Neild, a West Virginia University product, in the seventh round (253rd overall pick) of the 2011 NFL Draft and he made an immediate impact, sacking New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning twice in the Redskins’ season opening win.
“That was a huge factor in how I felt throughout the season,” Neild told the Pocono Record. “I wanted the coaches to put their trust in me and have confidence in me. We came out with a win and I had a decent game.”
Neild, who other than outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was the only other rookie to play in all 16 games last season, was the No. 2 nose tackle behind starter Barry Cofield, and said understanding his role in the defense was important.
“It was the first time in a while that I was a backup and had time to ease into my role,” Neild said. “It gave me time to understand my role and take advantage of that.”
For the season, Neild finished with nine tackles — 2.5 of them coming via the sack.
He said he’s been working on adding muscle and losing strength this offseason with his old strength coach at West Virginia, Mike Barwis.
“I definitely watch what I eat more,” Neild said. “In college I was there, but here there’s nothing guaranteed where I’m at now. I’m getting paid, this is my job now.”
Writer Mike Kuhns also did a “word association” exercise with Neild, in which he was given several subjects and told to respond with the first thing that came to mind:
Pocono Record: Your rookie year.
Neild: “Very long.”
PR: Robert Griffin III.
PR: London Fletcher.
PR: New York Giants.
Neild: “Two wins.”
PR: Sept. 9 at New Orleans
Neild: “Win and anticipation.”
PR: Have you circled a game on the schedule?
Neild: “No, I haven’t. The only thing we focus on, and it sounds cliché, is the Saints.”
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