Coming into form late during his rookie season, Redskins linebacker Preston Smith wants to turn up the intensity in his second season with the team.
What a difference one year makes.
In April 2015, Preston Smith was an eager, yet naturally nervous, prospect counting down the days until the NFL Draft.
He wasn't sure when exactly he was going to go during the three-day event or where, but Smith just wanted to end the process and pick up his life as a football player in the NFL.
"I remember meeting with the Redskins at the Combine, but I never thought [I'd join the team], because the Draft is a mystery, so you never know where you might go or what might happen," Smith told Larry Michael on "Redskins Nation." "A year ago, I was just like, my nerves were all over the place, everything was going, everybody was asking me 'Where do you think you're going to go? Where do you think you'll end up?' And you never have the answers to those questions and that makes you more nervous. So leading up to this time, the Draft, it's like I was ready for this to be over with so I can figure out where my new home is going to be."
His new home would eventually be Washington, as the Redskins used their second-round pick on Smith.
Smith had a strong Combine performance, running the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds while also recording a 121-inch broad jump and an 11.7-second 60-yard shuffle time.
But it was what happened at Mississippi State that prepared him for the next level.
"We [were] a hard-working school, some hard-nosed guys on my team so I was always working hard, that's all I knew was to work hard and keep on working hard and everything would eventually fall into place," Smith said. "Of course, during the season, things never go your way until you just keep working hard and stay focused and I just got back focused, had to refocus and once I got refocused things started to fall into place. Sacks started to come of course, so I got my confidence back and now I'm back rolling to where I need to be. I feel like I'm back where I was a year ago in college with my confidence level and I'm building from there and going forward."
Indeed, Smith turned it on late during his rookie season, as he recorded five sacks in the final three games of the season, three of which came off of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford in the Redskins' NFC East-clinching victory on Dec. 26.
Check out the top 10 photos of Preston Smith from the 2015 season.
He would lead all rookies in sacks with eight.
"I just refocused and just started working hard and I just started doing what I felt like was going to be successful for me as far as eating right and staying more focused in the meeting room and coming up with a plan," Smith said. "Just having a plan on what I feel, a plan that I knew was going to work for me, and that's what you've got to do, you've got to figure out your plan and coming in as a rookie, you've got to fill out the plan for success and I just had a plan for success and I just stuck to it and it started rolling in and everything started to fall in place."
It certainly didn't hurt that opponents were over-focusing on Kerrigan and not so much on him.
"Kerrigan is a great guy and he's going to take a lot of attention off of me, so of course, me being a rookie last year, he was demanding a lot of attention on his side," Smith said. "So that created a lot of more one-on-one opportunities for me and a lot of opportunities for me to get sacks by competing one on one with a guy and taking the attention off of me."
Entering his second season, Smith said he has no concreate individual goals in terms of sacks or production.
He simply just wants to bring it on every play.
"I just want to go out there and play as hard as I can each game and let everything else fall into place," Smith said. "And team goals, everybody's team goals are the same, get to the playoff, win the division, win your conference and make it to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl."