Rookie linebacker Preston Smith received a season high in snaps on Sunday, but the Redskins aren’t willing to name him the starting right outside linebacker yet.

The second-round pick was productive in 30 snaps, playing over half the game for the first time this season in the 23-20 victory over the Eagles. Smith finished with a sack, a pass defended and three tackles, but he will remain Trent Murphy’s backup for the time being. Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said the two will substitute equally at the position.

“Murphy’s our starter, and he’s playing well,” Gruden said. “He’s a very good first- and second-down run player. He showed the ability to pass rush yesterday, so we like both of them, and they’re in the developmental stages of their careers. They’re both getting stronger every day in the weight room. They’re both learning from the experience that they have on game day.”

Outside of first-round pick Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have taken a patient approach with their recent draft class. They’re not throwing rookies Smith, running back Matt Jones and wide receiver Jamison Crowder into starting roles immediately. The Redskins have instead incorporated these young players into their positional rotations to gain valuable experience, and they’ve increased, or decreased, their workload on a weekly basis based on their performances throughout the week.

In Smith’s case, the coaching staff would like to see maturity and consistency out of the Mississippi State linebacker before throwing him into a starting role. The issue with Smith hasn’t been during the games but rather at practice. The Redskins want to see Smith battle through adversity when he struggles at practice. That hasn’t been the case yet, and it’s a big reason why Murphy will remain the starter this week against the Falcons.

Murphy, a second-round pick last year, just had one of his best performances, recording a sack, a pressure and a fumble recovery on the Eagles’ final drive to help secure the win. He finished with two tackles in 33 snaps.

“The more experience they get, the better they’re going to be,” Gruden said. “I don’t care who’s in there between the two. I like them both, and they’re both going to be good for us for a long time.”

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