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Mailbag: Trent Murphy's potential; why Chris Culliver will help Redskins safeties

For part 1 of the Washington Redskins mailbag, some Trent Murphy talk, tight ends, Josh LeRibeus and one question I think is important: how the corners and safeties look working together. Enjoy.


John Keim: He's been with the starters the entire offseason and will open training camp that way. So ... the answer is yes. I think if they were more concerned about him, they would have gone in a different direction with the fifth overall pick. Coach Jay Gruden said he expects Murphy to make the biggest jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and he certainly was a player who looked more comfortable this spring. And even with Preston Smith here I expect Murphy to start. Smith still has plenty to learn, in all areas but both will play quite a bit. The question with Murphy is more about how good a starter he can become? Can he be a dynamic pass-rusher or even a guy who flirts with double-digit sacks? I do think he did a good job setting the edge in the run game. I think he'll benefit from moving around and being able to use his hands quite a bit. It should be a strength of his game. He's a guy I'm curious to see this summer; is their optimism about him legit?


John Keim: Not many options out there worth discussing. I'm a little surprised they didn't do anything with this spot in free agency or the draft, but the latter had little depth and I think Niles Paul gives them confidence. I know they liked Davin Mahina, the undrafted free agent tight end, but I haven't asked anyone about him lately. And he's a developmental guy. If Matt Jones becomes a threat out of the backfield, along with what they have at receiver, the Redskins can survive Jordan Reed's absence.


John Keim: It's hard to say after just watching them practice vs. an offense they know and while practicing in shorts, but I think it will be much better. There's a reason: Chris Culliver. When watching his film from last season, he understood how to play to his help and how to maintain leverage. Therefore, a safety can absolutely trust him and when you have trust, you can execute much better in this area. There's no way they could trust the corners last season: David Amerson had his gaffes and Bashaud Breeland had a couple, but also was a rookie. Both had natural growing pains which led to issues. I don't know how Duke Ihenacho is in this area because his coverage skills were knocked in the past (perhaps he's improved here; we'll see). Haven't seen enough of Jeron Johnson, either, but he comes from such a disciplined system I'd be surprised if there's an issue. But, really, it starts with the safeties trusting the corners and reacting accordingly.


John Keim: I think he has to make it as a guard/center. That's why they've been working him at center, to see if he can handle that position in an emergency. They like his athleticism and he moves well, so I'd lean toward him being on the roster as a multi-role player. If they keep nine players, the initial group I'd expect entering camp: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Arie Kouandjio, Tom Compton and LeRibeus. It never seems to play out the way you think with the last spot or two and I'm curious to see how players such as Willie Smith, Takoby Cofield and Austin Reiter progress.


John Keim: No. They will practice versus one another and within those workouts there are mini-scrimmages, with the starters going against one another. It serves the same purpose. I do miss the days when they scrimmaged the Steelers or when they conducted intra-squad scrimmages on Fan Appreciation Day. But I like these practices because working vs. another team always is revealing.