ASHBURN, Va. -- The education began after the play for rookie linebacker Trent Murphy. He raised both arms to bat a pass on a bootleg and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett immediately spoke with him after the play. Use one hand, he told him and then repeated their motto: One arm is higher than two.
Other times outside linebackers coach Brian Baker pulled him aside. And, after the morning session Saturday, he talked with him for nearly 10 minutes – discussing angles and hand placement.
Murphy, the Redskins' second-round draft pick from Stanford, soaked in the education and the day.
“It has a blue collar feel to it that I love,” he said. “I feel right at home.”
The education came in the details. For a guy not considered to have an explosive step off the ball, those details will greatly matter, especially if he wants to help immediately as a third outside linebacker in a pass-rush role. The key will be applying the lessons learned to the field against quality players.
"He adds an element of the pass rush we drastically need," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "He has an inside move, had a good spin move. Everything we saw on tape he demonstrated out here. The ability to move him around and do things with him is exciting."
Here are a couple things Murphy learned, particularly after his chat with Baker following practice:
Know how to use your length. Murphy has long arms, which helps, but not if he’s extended.
“I hurt myself keeping my length in the pass rush,” Murphy said. “It’s like keeping a pole between me and the offensive lineman. With that distance, they can recover and get back on me.”
His hands need to be tighter. Longer arms lead to wider angles -- and a less direct path to the quarterback.
“Angles are everything as far as keeping that time [getting to the quarterback] to a minimum,” Murphy said.
It helped going against rookie third-round pick Morgan Moses and his long arms. If Murphy counters a long-armed tackle with his arms out by extending his own arms, then he’ll struggle to win his matchup. Coaches told Murphy the “one arm is longer than two” mantra. Focus on getting one arm inside the tackle rather than both.
In college, Murphy at times rounded his moves at the top of his rush. Sometimes it was because of his hips, more than his feet. Other times it stemmed from his arms.
“If I can get one arm in there then my arm’s longer than his,” Murphy said. “I was keeping that arm fully extended, but at some point I have to fold it in so I can get around him as opposed to keeping him out and then running around. That’s where that rounded [rush] is coming from.”
One arm is longer than two. It's the same mantra coaches gave him about the pass rush, but this one applied to defending the quarterback on a bootleg pass. When the quarterback is rolling your way, get one arm up to bat down the pass (unless, of course, you can catch it).
“And don’t jump,” Murphy said. “If he tucks and runs, you’re in the air and can’t do anything.”