Redskins third-year linebacker Preston Smith changed up some of his eating habits this offseason to keep his body prepared for an important season ahead.
Entering his third season with the Washington Redskins, linebacker Preston Smith is hoping to be a more consistent contributor, particularly in the pass rush.
A second-round pick out of Mississippi State in the 2015 NFL Draft, Smith came on strong during the end of his rookie season, recording five sacks in Washington's final three games including three against the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC East-clinching victory. His 8.5 sacks total on the year led all rookies.
While Smith flashed the same potential during his sophomore campaign, his sack total dipped to 4.5.
Two of those sacks – along with his lone interception on the season – came in a Week 10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
In an effort to get his numbers closer or even better to those he set as a rookie, Smith altered his diet this offseason.
Smith decided to cut out candy and other sweets and even bread while opting to consume more lean meats and vegetables.
"I was kind of winging a lot of stuff and now it's like this offseason is just a lot of just baked and grilled no fried foods, cut out all the sweets, no bread," Smith told reporters. "Just keep your diet like that and stay straight to that diet."
Smith believes there's a direct correlation between healthy eating and on-field performance. He said he finished last season weighing 270 pounds.
He's listed on the roster now at 265 pounds but believes he's closer to 262 pounds at training camp.
"You want to put the right stuff in your body so you get a good result," Smith said. "I didn't feel like, you know, I was doing bad or I didn't feel like sluggish or nothing but in this league, you always want to be a step better each year. You always want to improve on something. So I feel like if my diet can help me improve on my play, then it can improve on my output on the field and I'm willing to sacrifice you know anything for my place."
Smith enters the 2017 on an outside linebackers corps that is as deep as it has been in years. With Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Anderson, Junior Galette, Trent Murphy and Lynden Trail on the 90-man roster along with Smith, Washington's pass rush will create problems for opposing passers this season.
But for Smith exclusively, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden wants to see steady improvement over the coming weeks before the regular season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 10.
"He looks like he's worked hard in the offseason which is a big plus," Gruden said. "Again, Preston and Junior, and Ryan and Trent obviously – although he's going to miss four games – with the addition of Ryan and Lynden Trail's done some good things… So we have got good stable of outside linebackers there that we hope can all benefit from the competition but also from experience that they have in the system."