As Saturday morning’s practice session at the Washington Redskins’ rookie minicamp wrapped up and players trickled off the field for their lunch breaks, outside linebackers coach Brian Baker pulled Trent Murphy aside for some one-on-one tutoring.
The coach and second-round pick — Washington’s first this year — worked on technique on hand placement, and how to fend off blockers. As Baker demonstrated on Murphy, the 2013 NCAA sacks leader, nodded his head and then carried out the technique himself.
Satisfied, Baker praised the rookie and walked off. Murphy filed the tips away in his memory bank along with the other lessons he had learned, and re-learned this weekend. The one-on-one attention continued throughout the afternoon session. Following a series of plays when the first unit made way for the second unit, Baker met Murphy as he returned to the sideline, and shared more instructions.
“Different scheme, different defense,” Murphy said. “So, learning the scheme, learning some technique, new coaching points, and really trying to refine and hone in some pass-rushing techniques. It’s kind of the ancient Chinese secret, ‘There is no secret, really.’ So, I’m just going back to some fundamental things and some fundamental pass-rush angles and get-off and things. It’s good to get back to basics.”
Asked for a rundown of the tips Baker had shared, Murphy said, “Basically, to keep my outside hand up on the boot, and one arm is longer than two, so put that big mitt up there so quarterbacks can’t see over and maybe bat a ball down, and of course, the old saying ‘No jumpies’ when you’re running after a quarterback. Don’t jump up there because if he tucks and runs, then you’re in the air and can’t do anything.”
The Redskins last week selected Murphy with the 47th pick of the draft with plans to pair him with veteran outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan and boost Washington’s pass rush.
Murphy this week has spent the bulk of the time rushing from the left edge – in the spot usually manned by Kerrigan. Redskins coaches see Murphy initially as a situational pass rusher, who could either provide relief for the two Pro Bowl linebackers, and at times, join them on the field.
Murphy said he doesn’t yet know what lies in store for him, but that he isn’t worried.
“First and foremost, I want to learn from them,” he said of Orakpo and Kerrigan. “They’re two phenomenal players and hopefully I can get in the mix, and spell them here and there or maybe sometimes get on the field at the same time as them.”
Murphy said thus far, his NFL introduction has gone smoothly. Having played in a 3-4 defense at Stanford, he has a head start on some of his fellow rookie pass rushers, who are trying to make the team while also transitioning from 4-3 defensive end to outside linebacker.
“It’s helped tremendously,” he said. “Some of the other guys here, they’ve never played OLB before and you can tell their head’s spinning. But for me, it helps because some of the calls are the same as Stanford’s, so it’s been really good.”
Murphy spent the weekend matched up primarily with right tackle Morgan Moses, Washington’s third-round pick out of Virginia. Moses appeared to get the best of Murphy in their matchups on Saturday. But Murphy said the two had already “been going back and forth,” and that he expected the competition to only help.
“For me, it’s just getting better. Every moment, every day,” he said. “Like the saying, ‘If you’re not getting better every day, you’re getting worse.’ ”
Gruden said he and coaches have received encouragement from their initial up-close look at Murphy. They believe his showing only confirmed their draft-day expectations for the pass rusher.
“He’s got a wide variety of moves and Coach Baker is only going to make him better and better,” Gruden said. “He’s got a long way to go obviously, but we’re excited to work with a guy that’s 6-foot-5 1/2 with room to get bigger and stronger, and has the arsenal of moves that he has. He can counter-move, he doesn’t predetermine. He’s got good spin move, he’s got an inside move, outside move, he uses his hands, he can get down and work his leverage. So, he’s got all the skill you want already. It’s just a matter of keep developing him, keep getting his get-offs and develop him. We’re happy with that pick, no doubt.”
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