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Neild Takes Early Success In Stride

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Rookie nose tackle Chris Neild doesn't want to dwell on his opening day success.

It was one game, after all.

"Overall, this has been a growing process day by day, and I'm just taking it all in stride," he said.

In the Redskins' 28-14 win over the New York Giants last Sunday, Neild played in his first NFL regular season and put together an impressive stat line: four tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

More impressive is that Neild's 1.5 sacks marked the first time a Redskins rookie had opened with multiple sacks since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Both of his sacks came against Eli Manning in the second half of Sunday's 28-14 win over the New York Giants.

"Any time a guy gets 1.5 sacks, I don't think you are expecting that the first game of his rookie season, especially for a nose tackle," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "So it's a little bit of a surprise for a guy to have two sacks. But Chris has that type of mindset.

"He's a worker. He does an excellent job at the nose tackle position, especially coming in as a young guy. I like the way he handles himself. He's a worker, very accountable and he played accordingly."

Neild was the second-to-last pick — 253rd overall — in last April's NFL Draft. He may have surprised some people with his sacks, and he surprised himself a little bit, too.

"In college last year [at West Virginia]. I had three sacks the whole season, the year before that I had none," Neild said. "So I didn't expect that at all, I just went out there and tried to do my job."

Linebacker Brian Orakpo praised Neild for his performance on defense.

"He had a phenomenal game," Orakpo said. "Who would have ever thought — he had two sacks? Rookies coming in and making plays, that's what we need — guys with hungry attitudes."

Looking back on the game, Neild said everything was a blur, including the sacks.

"I can't really explain the feeling," he said. "It's loud out there and you're kind of thinking, 'Wow, I just got a sack.'"

Neild is part of a rookie class that missed out on OTAs and got a late start to training camp due to a lockout-shortened offseason. He believes his play will continue to improve, but at a gradual pace.

"It was all about adjusting to the speed of the game and how we play," he said.

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