The National Football League announced on Friday that Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith, who had three sacks vs. the Eagles, was voted the Rookie of the Week. *
Fresh off a career-best performance in an NFC East-clinching victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins linebacker Preston Smith on Friday was voted the league's Rookie of the Week.
It's Smith's first-career leaguewide honor.
Smith had a career-best three sacks of Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford, as well as a forced fumble, last Saturday, helping lead his team to the NFC East title with its 38-24 victory over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
Smith showed off his enormous potential on one play in particular, beating Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters, who was flagged for an obvious holding call in the process, yet the rookie found a way to Bradford and took him down with one hand.
The performance catapuled Smith, a Mississippi State product, to first among all rookies with seven total sacks heading into Sunday's regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. It's the most sacks by a Redskins rookie since Ryan Kerrigan's 7.5 in 2011.
Smith, who was a second-round selection in May's NFL Draft, said he's kept "a positive mindset" all season as he's learned the ropes of the professional game.
"You've got to be ready to play when the ball is in your court," he told reporters after the Eagles game. "You know, I stayed focused. Guys stayed around me, it's a long season, so week in week out nothing's going your way, and you've just got to keep grinding and working. You know, it's going to be like a game today. I didn't know I was going out there and get three sacks. I just came out there rushed and kept rushing and [sacks] were falling in my lap. I just kept on playing hard and I keep on progressing each week seeing what I need to fix each week and go off that."
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said last week that Smith was "finding a niche" in the Redskins' defense.
"I think now he's starting to get off the snap a little bit quicker, play with a little bit more speed and aggression," Gruden said. "That's the one thing we keep trying to harp on. He's just got to play more violently with his hands and really get off on the snap count. He's finding a role."
Smith beat out Chicago's Harold Jones-Quartey (one interception, one forced fumble), Arizona's David Johnson (127 yards from scrimmage, one touchdown), Baltimore's Javorius Allen (114 yards from scrimmage, one touchdown) and Buffalo's A.J. Tarpley (one interception, one forced fumble) for this week's Rookie of the Week honors.