Rookie seventh-round draft pick Markus White entered Thursday night’s preseason finale as one of about 35 players battling for perhaps eight spots on the Redskins’ regular season roster. He wound up making a strong case for himself.
The defensive end-turned-linebacker recorded five tackles, a sack, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery, which he returned 37 yards to set up Washington’s first touchdown of the game.
The 6-foot-4, 266-pound White’s fumble recovery and return came on a play in which he and fellow outside linebacker Rob Jackson both burst into the backfield. Jackson hit Tampa Bay quarterback Rudy Carpenter from behind, jarring the ball loose. White scooped up the ball and raced to the 2-yard line before he was tackled.
“My mindset was, ‘I’ve been here and done this before and just jumped on it. I’m gonna scoop this. I’m gonna scoop this,’” White said after the game. “I scooped it and wanted to make sure I seized the moment.”
White played the majority of the game and seemed to be always around the ball. He hopes coaches are pleased enough with his performance to give him a spot on the 53-man roster, although he is at a crowded position that features starting outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, as well as veteran backups Jackson and Lorenzo Alexander.
“I did my best, and that’s all I can leave them with,” the Florida State product said. “If they want me, they do. If they don’t, they don’t. This is a heck of a team.”
Even if the Redskins don’t keep White on the roster, he could be added to the practice squad if he makes it through waivers. But that’s not his goal.
“I don’t settle for that kind of stuff, but if it’s what I need to improve, and if it’s going to get me better mentally and physically, then that’s what it is,” White said.
Fellow seventh-round draft pick Chris Neild started at nose tackle and also is hoping that he did enough to remain on the roster. Neild recorded a sack and a quarterback hurry while making the start in place of first-stringer Barry Cofield.
“This was a very critical game for a lot of guys trying to make this team,” the former West Virginia standout said. “I really tried to leave it out there and give my best effort. I think overall I did well. We got the win, and that’s what matters. We’ll see what happens these next couple days. I feel like I matured these last four weeks. Hopefully put enough on film for them to make the right decision.”