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Preston Smith Comes Alive At Close Of First Season

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After having just three sacks in his first 12 games with the Redskins this season, Preston Smith tallied five sacks in the last three games thanks to a different approach to the game.

Washington Redskins rookie linebacker Preston Smith ended his first season on quite the high note, as the 2015 second-round pick collected five sacks in his final three games. 

Smith's eight total sacks on the season are the second most by a rookie in Redskins history.

On Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys in the regular season finale, Smith recorded a sack after getting around three-time Pro Bowler and 2014 first-team All-Pro Tyron Smith.

"I used a power move kind of like a bull rushing," Smith said. "The quarterback stuck in the pocket, I came off Tyron Smith and got the sack. It was pretty awesome, because he's one of the best in this league and to get a sack on him, which is one of the top, it feels great."

Smith's season started off strong as he got a sack and fumble recovery in the season opener against the Miami Dolphins, but then the Mississippi State product struggled to find the sack column again for quite some time.

That's not to say he wasn't contributing in other areas, but the lack of quarterback takedowns frustrated the 23-year-old at times.

"It's great, because early on I was being so hard on myself in the season," Smith said of his late season success. "Not doing what I wanted to do, not getting sacks like I would like. You know now, ending the season so strong individually, along with the team, it feels great. I got close to ten, which is a goal I set for myself coming into this season upon getting drafted. It feels great to go out there, you know, get close to my goal."

With just two sacks in the next 12 games following his sack of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Smith decided to slightly alter his approach in December.

Check out images of rookie linebacker Preston Smith during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.

Then breakthrough happened.

"I was just hard on myself trying to make sure I was changing things up, like being predictable, and make sure I could go out there and try and get a sack each and every week," Smith said. "It's hard to get sacks on some of the best players in the country and in the league. I have to try and go out there and get close to my goal, even though I knew it was going to be a long year and I knew at some point I was going to get sacks here and there, I knew I had to just keep on rushing and staying discipline and do the best I can to help our team."

The highlight of Smith's season came against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16 when he recorded three sacks.

He was voted by fans across the league as the Rookie of the Week.

"I had a lot of family members that posted, reposted on Twitter, Facebook, and try to [show] that I played great," Smith said with a smile.

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