Trent Murphy knows a lot about sacking quarterbacks; he led the country in sacks last season at Stanford. The Redskins drafted Murphy as a pass rush linebacker in a similar mold as Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. And just like Kerrigan and Orakpo, Murphy now has the chance to compete in practice against Washington left tackle Trent Williams, one of the best in the NFL.
"Going against a guy like Trent, he's a big guy, definitely a good opportunity everyday in practice," Murphy said after minicamp Tuesday.
Asked to compare competing against Williams to the foes he faced in college, Murphy explained it was a new level of learning.
"I'm getting my doctorate now. I've got a lot of work to do still."
Last season the 'Skins totaled 36 sacks, with Orakpo and Kerrigan combining for 18.5. For a successful season in Washington in 2014, the team needs more sacks overall with 'Rak and Kerrigan approaching the 25 sack total. Additional pressure from Murphy could be a key factor in keeping both of the established linebackers fresh.
"I look to definitely make the roster and be a guy who gives some good depth and rotation with (Orakpo) and Ryan (Kerrigan), and get in there on some third downs hopefully."
Though he didn't participate much in Tuesday's minicamp, free agent signee Jason Hatcher should also help the Washington pass rush. A better pass rush, with the addition of the second round pick Murphy and Hatcher, could improve the play in the Redskins' secondary.
Murphy has learned a lot in limited time with the Redskins, and not all of it when lined up against Williams. Practicing at multiple positions on the defensive line as well as the outside linebacker spot, Murphy looks versatile. He also expects to contribute on special teams, another area that needs great improvement in 2014.
"It's cool, I've been rotating around all over the place," Murphy said about playing so many spots.
"Trent's done a great job. He's played both sides, he's played in nickel situations, he's played with the three technique, he's stood up and moved around," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Trent's done an outstanding job and I see him all the time in the film room watching practice."
Whether it's his Stanford background, or the practice sessions with Williams, Murphy seems to be learning fast.
"He's got a long way to go, there's no question about it, but the amount of work that he puts into practice and in the games, I think he's going to get there a lot quicker than a normal person," Gruden said.