With Trent Murphy on the move and Preston Smith's development key for the entire defense, having an OLB coach for the first time since 2014 is ideal.
RICHMOND -- The top offseason story for the Washington Redskins may be losing pass rushing specialist Junior Galette for the season to another Achilles injury. That scenario now leads to another interesting one, the move of Trent Murphy back from defensive end back to outside linebacker after spending the offseason doing the opposite. That decision came in part because of depth uncertainty beyond standouts Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who is entering his formative second season.
That's a lot going on with one position. Good thing the Redskins have a dedicated outside linebackers coach this season.
It's not unusual to have just one coach for the entire linebacker group. For the past two seasons, Kirk Olivadotti handled that role. This year, Olivadotti will coach the inside linebackers exclusively while Greg Manusky, who played LB for the Redskins in the 1980's, handles the outside unit. Based on all that's influx, talk about a fortuitous decision.
"It was great adding coach Manusky to the coaching staff," Smith told Breaking Burgundy. "To get that individual coaching now instead of having a coach for both inside and outside guys is very helpful. K.O. [Kirk Olivadotti] did a great job coaching us the best he could last year and we had some good results. But with adding coach Manusky...It's always better when you can get individual attention -- to focus on just one group."
On paper, prior to the injury, Washington had one of the league's more formidable groups of outside linebackers. You're in great shape as a team if you have two potential double digit sack masters. With Galette, Kerrigan and Smith, the Redskins had three. Then Galette tore an Achilles for the second straight year and the trio became a duo.
Starting with Kerrigan and Preston isn't so bad. What's going on behind them is the concern.
"For right now it's just next man up," Manusky told Breaking Burgundy Sunday. "We go into the season and it's either Trent Murphy, Houston Bates or Preston. We have to get these guys developed so they can go out there and play."
Murphy, Washington's top selection in 2014, spent the entire offseason bulking up and eating everything in site
"At first I had mixed feelings about it," Murphy said. "But then I thought about it -- new opportunity -- a challenge. Especially an opportunity to be moving forward a lot more. I was in coverage a lot last year at SAM linebacker. So this was really an opportunity to pass rush and be disruptive in the backfield -- which is really what I want to do. So I got excited -- I'm such a weight room guy that I was like, alright, cool -- I can just push some weight and be a meathead for a little bit."
Galette's injury altered those meathead dreams. Redskins coach Jay Gruden confirmed the Murphy position switcheroo Monday.
Perhaps it's best that Washington make a call on Murphy rather than having him splitting time between two worlds, especially he's yet to master either. That's not the most ideal situation because he needs to re-learn how to play with his hand in the dirt. Based on his work in Sunday' practice, Murphy has a ways to go with his fundamentals as a pass rusher at DE.
The other reserve OLB options also fit into the work-in-progress category.
Bates, another second year linebacker, showed some sparks in OTA's, but has been a bit underwhelming thus far in training camp. Trail is a massive, but raw prospect. Willie Jefferson is also in the mix. All will have a chance to show off their game in Thursday's preseason opener at Atlanta.
"Lynden Trail has had a really good camp and Houston Bates has made a lot of strides," Kerrigan said. "So I'm really excited to see what those guys have shown on the practice field be put at game speed."
Other than the veteran Kerrigan, the Redskins are young at outside linebacker. Good thing they have a dedicated OLB coach for the first time since 2014.
You can find Emmanual on Twitter @manny_benton.
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