RICHMOND, VA. -- I'll take a periodic look at each Washington Redskins rookie, what they're learning and what they still must learn, as the summer unfolds. First up: linebacker Trent Murphy, the second-round pick.
What he’s learning: Coverage and eye discipline. The coaches see the coverage aspect because it’s a part of an outside linebacker’s job in this scheme. Murphy dropped into coverage at Stanford, which also played a 3-4. But it’s a little different here. What the Redskins want to make sure of is that he can handle the tight ends if necessary because they likely won’t put him in too many situations where he’s asked to drop.
As for his eyes, Murphy pointed to this as the one thing he wants to improve. He knows where the eyes must be, but he’s still struggling to always look at those spots. The result? He’s seeing too much.
“When you’re seeing everything than what’s right in front of you, it gets blurred,” Murphy said.
He said the more they’re in camp the better he’ll get at this. But it’s an important part of his development. Lessen the information so you don’t get overloaded; look for one clue that reveals all.
“Sometimes you can look at the hip of a guy and from what his hip does, you can tell what everyone else on the field is doing,” Murphy said. “You don’t have to see them.”
Every day brings more lessons. In college, Murphy had a terrific spin move and he showed it in the spring as well. But he still has to learn how to use it against NFL talent. Even rookie Morgan Moses, who struggled with it in the spring, stopped it cold in a one-on-one drill on Sunday.
“As good as I’ve had it, the subtlest thing gives it away,” he said. “Or you try to run wider to set it up more. That triggers something in the linemen’s mind and then he sits on it. That’s where it’s just important to stay on your line.”
What stands out: His height. It's tough to miss a guy who’s nearly 6-foot-6. But he has a knack for playing lower than his height, which has come in handy (saw it against tackle Trent Williams where Murphy got low and shot inside against the run).
“He can play like he’s 5-11 when he has to,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said.
Murphy’s consistency helped him in college and that has been noticeable in camp, too, on his rushes. He stays on his intended path to the quarterback. Murphy might lack the burst of an elite rusher, but it’s the other parts of his game that give him a chance to be good in this role.
“A lot of it is first step and alignment on the guy across from you,” Murphy said, “and then staying on that angle no matter what. A lot of times guys let the offensive lineman or end or back dictate to them where the line is going to be. But you have to be disciplined to stay on your line no matter what.”
What needs to be seen: Whether he can generate legitimate pressure in the NFL. Of course, that won’t be known until the games begin. Murphy has beaten the backup linemen, but he’s still proving that he can do it against the starters. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares here in the preseason, especially as he gets more acclimated and disciplined with his eyes.
Current projection: He’ll be the No. 3 outside linebacker. Nothing will change that, unless one of the starters gets hurt and he has to move into the lineup. And there’s no one who is challenging him for the job Washington drafted him to do. Murphy also will help on special teams. They’ll use him all over, outside and, as a rusher, over the guard.