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Preston Smith's fed up with almost sacking QBs and wants to finish better in 2017

Preston Smith's fed up with almost sacking QBs and wants to finish better in 2017

In the NFL, pressuring the opposing quarterback is a premium skill. But pressuring, and then also taking down, the opposing quarterback is even more valued.

As a rookie for the Redskins in 2015, Preston Smith did more of the latter on his way to compiling eight sacks, which was a very high number for a first-year pro. That total was almost cut in half in his second year, though, as Smith had just four and a half takedowns in 2016.

Whether or not No. 94 has heard the favorite phrase of crotchety people everywhere about close only counting in horseshoes and hand grenades, he can at least definitely relate to it after a sophomore campaign in which he reached passers plenty, but just couldn't get them to the ground in time. 

And that's something he believes he must address heading into 2017.

"I just feel like I had a lot of opportunities to get more sacks, and just in the moment, didn't capitalize," Smith told Redskins Insider JP Finlay during a #RedskinsTalk podcast conversation. "I missed a lot of sacks. There was a lot of real close ones."

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Smith then reviewed the almost-sacks that pained him the most, including a few against the Bears where Matt Barkley was barely able to get the ball out before his knee hit the ground and one against Ben Roethlisberger where the Steelers legend completed a pass despite having the defender on him.

It was also very evident in the 24-year-old's tone that this was something he really finds difficult about being in the NFL (in fact, he told Finlay earlier in the chat he has given up fried foods this offseason, and his voice was nowhere near as sad then as it was when running through the near-sacks).

"It's like you work hard to get a sack, and sometimes, OK, you get there, and the quarterback's throwing the ball while he's falling or even though you're attached to him," he said. "It's frustrating, and that's pretty much my whole [2016] season, it was a frustrating season. Because I can get there. It wasn't a problem of getting there."

The negative side of getting to his targets a moment too late in his second season is that it led to that glaring difference in his overall stats. But is there a positive side? 

Well, in a way, yes — Smith understands exactly what he needs to do better to bounce back for the Redskins starting in the fall.

"When I get to the quarterback this year, I just know," he said. "I have to have those opportunities, I have to create those moments where he has no chance to get the ball off." 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Chase Young, potential Redskins No. 2 pick, does not plan to work out during NFL Scouting Combine

Chase Young, potential Redskins No. 2 pick, does not plan to work out during NFL Scouting Combine

Chase Young has thrown a wrinkle into this week's NFL Scouting Combine, as the Ohio State pass rusher does not plan on participating in drills during the event. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the news first.

Young will still fly to Indianapolis for the combine, as he will be present for medicals and interviews, according to Rapoport. All 32 NFL teams are permitted to individually interview 45 different NFL Draft prospects at the combine.

With LSU quarterback Joe Burrow likely headed to the Bengals with the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Young is widely expected to be selected by the Redskins with the No. 2 overall pick.

As it stands now, Young's draft stock practically as high as it possibly could be. Thus, his decision to sit out combine drills is not necessarily a surprising choice. The 20-year-old also has the opportunity to showcase his talents during Ohio State's Pro Day, which will occur sometime between the middle of March and the beginning of April.

Several current Redskins, including Young's former Buckeye teammates Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin, have lobbied for the Burgundy and Gold to select Young.

NFL experts have wavered back and forth on what Washington should do with the pick. NBC Sports' Peter King thinks Washington could "remake their franchise" by trading the pick and acquiring multiple assets. Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Young, either.

But most NFL experts believe Young to Washington should be a done deal. Danny Kanell says the team should take Young and not look back. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said Washington should take Young unless a team "blows their doors off" with a trade offer. Almost every single mock draft across all websites has the Redskins inking Young with their pick.

The NFL Draft is eight weeks away and a lot can change between now and then. The Scouting Combine workouts begin on Thursday with tight ends, quarterbacks and wide receivers taking the field.

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Former Redskins QB Josh Johnson destroys Defenders in Week 3

Former Redskins QB Josh Johnson destroys Defenders in Week 3

Former Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson carved up the visiting DC Defenders for 278 yards and three touchdowns Sunday night in the Los Angeles Wildcats' commanding 39-9 victory.

The Wildcats obliterated Cardale Jones (13-of-26, 4 INT) and the Defenders, who fall to 2-1 on the season.

Johnson completed passes to eight different receivers, including William and Mary standout Tre McBride, who was traded from the Defenders to the Wildcats in the preseason.

McBride finished the night with five catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

Johnson played for the Redskins during the 2018 NFL season, suiting up for the final four games after the team lost both Alex Smith and Colt McCoy to season-ending injuries. Johnson led the Redskins to a 16-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars during Week 15, throwing for 151 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson was selected by the Wildcats in the XFL Supplemental Draft in Nov. 2019. 

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