Redskins mailbag, Part 1: Trent Murphy's potential, Trent Williams' injury

We start off with the Trents for Part 1 of the mailbag: Trent Murphy wasn't necessarily drafted to start, but it looks like that's what he'll be doing -- is that how the Washington Redskins see it? Then there's Trent Williams' injury -- cause for concern? Other topics: Terrance Knighton, strong safety and DeSean Jackson. Enjoy.

John Keim: Yes, they have to see him as a starter because right now that's what he'll be doing this season, at least initially. Preston Smith has a ways to go in order to take that job, and Murphy has only been working with the first defense all spring. Coach Jay Gruden sounded really excited about Murphy's progress. Here's what I like about the kid: He works his butt off and constantly tries to improve. Guys like that have long careers. He looks bigger this spring, too, for what that's worth (and I think that will enable them to be more creative and play him with his hand down with Smith outside). Murphy is smart and will be used all over; I've seen him stand up, rush with his hand in the dirt and play over the middle and rush. What I also like is that it appears he might rush well on stunts and set up teammates by taking out a blocker or two. I've learned not to go overboard on how guys look in the spring. But I am curious to see how and where he's improved when they put on the pads. And for those who then say: If Murphy starts, why draft Smith? Because they'll play nickel coverage at least 70 percent of the time, so all three outside linebackers will get plenty of action.

John Keim: Probably at least a little bit considering how long it's bothered him. The good part for him is that he said he didn't have any surgery and had visited noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. So it's just rest and rehab. Still, this will be something to monitor all summer. It's a big year for Williams, entering the final year of his contract. He said he lost 20 pounds, trimming down to 325 -- it needed to happen.

John Keim: I'll start with the last question: Yes, he really is that big. When you can make 300-pound men look small, you know you have some girth. The amazing thing is how athletic he can still play for a guy his size (I'm guessing he's still over 370, which represents a quality drop from when he was signed). As for the first part, we won't really get a good feel for how different it is until they put on the pads. There's just no contact now, so the linemen do not go quite as hard as they will in training camp. Potentially, they could be more productive. Knighton gives them a legit run stuffer in the middle while Stephen Paea and Jason Hatcher should work well in the attacking one-gap scheme they'll play. But let's see it on the field before getting giddy.

John Keim: I'm not sure that he is or isn't his type of player. He drafted a smaller, quicker guy in the fourth round in Jamison Crowder (not discussing his troubles), but typically favored bigger receivers. If Jackson produces, then sure I could see him back. He scares the defense and they have no one like him to handle that role if he leaves. But let's see how this season goes first. If he wears down and isn't productive? Then, sure, he could be elsewhere in 2016. At that point, you have to weigh a lot of factors in addition to productivity -- can he keep being productive with his approach? Few have as many things going on off the field as Jackson does.

John Keim: One, they have been rotating. It's just that the days Duke Ihenacho has been with the starters coincides with media availability. I still expect Johnson to win the job. It's hard to tell a whole lot with safeties considering so much depends on their ability to fill the right gap and tackle -- we won't see the latter skill until August. Johnson made a few plays, including a nice interception on a hard-thrown short pass -- when we watched during the first OTA session.

John Keim: If healthy, I see DeAngelo Hall starting opposite Chris Culliver. Hall still has to show he can play coming off the Achilles' injury, but if he does then it's his job. I can see Breeland covering in the slot; no strong alternative at this point. But it's a good way to get him on the field, too. He has the physical nature to play inside and that helps.