Considered a long-shot to make the Redskins’ 53-man roster at the start of training camp, rookie nose tackle Chris Neild beat the odds this weekend.
The second-to-last pick in April’s draft (253rd overall), Neild made Washington’s active roster on a day when 25 of the players he experienced his first NFL training camp with were released.
“From what I heard, no news [was] good news,” the West Virginia product said about his nervous energy while waiting to hear whether or not he’d made the team on Saturday. “I just walked into the locker room. I tried to stay out of people’s views. I didn’t hear anything so I just assumed it was positive.”
Neild making the roster over veteran defensive lineman Anthony Bryant was one of the biggest surprises of cut-down day.
A standout in college who helped anchor a defense that finished top-five in the nation against the run last season, Neild spent the preseason trying to prove he could play stout against an NFL-front.
“I think I made a lot of progress,” he said about his game experience. “At first it was a bit of a shaky start just adjusting to the speed of the game at this level but overall I think I adjusted pretty well.”
Shortly after the Redskins’ Monday afternoon practice, head coach Mike Shanahan spoke about the decision to retain Neild.
“That was very tough because Anthony really has worked hard, he did some good things for us last year. But we thought Chris separated himself and that’s why he made the team.”
As for what Shanahan sees in his promising young nose tackle?
“He’s mentally tough. He’s a student of the game. He works extremely hard. I think he’s got a chance to have a good future.”