Through three games, linebacker Preston Smith has nearly totaled his sack output from last season, a growing sign he’s taking the right steps in 2017.

To finish out his rookie season, outside linebacker Preston Smith put together an impressive run, recording five sacks in the Redskins’ final three games and propelling them into the playoffs. The raw athleticism had come together in a potent way, and Washington saw glimpses of a fruitful future.

His sophomore season, however, had its setbacks. Smith struggled to translate his power, spread throughout his 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame. He started every game but amassed just 4.5 sacks, finding trouble finishing plays when he managed to get near the quarterback.

“Last year, from a statistical standpoint, he didn’t have as many sacks as we’d like,” head coach Jay Gruden said. “He was around the quarterback quite often and he missed a few here and there.”

So far, Smith’s third year in the league has been a different story, and his quick burst off the line and ability to shed blocks has produced tangible results for the defense in the way the team envisioned when they drafted him in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.



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