J.D. Skolnitsky now knows first-hand about the bottom line of life in the NFL.
"I mean, the way the business is, if you're not winning, something is going to change," says Skolnitsky, the former James Madison defensive end who is getting ready for his second season in the NFL, and first with the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts.
Skolnitsky spent his rookie year on the Redskins' practice squad. The undrafted rookie free agent watched his team finish 4-11, good for last place in the NFC East.
That last-place finish cost head coach Jim Zorn his job, and on January 6, Mike Shanahan was hired as Zorn's replacement. One of Shanahan's first moves was naming Jim Haslett as the team's new defensive coordinator.
With a new coordinator came a new defensive scheme.
"They switched to a 3-4 defense," Skolnitsky says. "Which kind of kept me out of the loop because I've mainly been a 4-3 defensive lineman the entire time."
Skolnitsky was one of ten players the Redskins cut March 5. Four days later, he was claimed on waivers by the Colts.
"It was a good feeling, because it could be a day, or it could be until after the draft, or you could possibly end up being nowhere," he says. "It was a good feeling being wanted by another team, especially a team that had that much success last year."
Skolnitsky says he's visited Indianapolis once this month, and he's reporting this weekend for off-season workouts.
"It's very, very professional," he says of the environment with his new team. "I could tell just how the coach handles meetings, and how people interact with each other, that they don't really mess around that much. It's just a very business-like environment."
Skolnitsky admits he feels a bit like a rookie again, since his second season will be with a second team.
However, he also says he's better prepared this time for what lies ahead.
"I learned a lot that first year. I learned a lot of stuff," he says. "And I would have to say that paying attention to very minor details can really pay off if you just keep doing it.
"And then just putting in the extra work," Skolnitsky adds. "Getting there early, staying there later."
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