Trent Murphy: He has had a solid camp, though he’s not, and won’t be, a dynamic pass rusher. That doesn’t mean he can’t help and if the interior push comes through as they hope, then it will benefit anyone rushing from the outside. Murphy will not win often off the edge, but his added strength should help him on certain rushes. Last season, for example, he too often got bumped off stride when rushing upfield, a sign he needed to get stronger. He has been more consistent than the others vying for this job.
Preston Smith: He has taken a step in the last week or two, starting with a sack vs. Cleveland in the preseason opener. Early in camp and to that point he was thinking way too much on his rushes and it led to ineffective moves. He wasn’t beating anyone in the pass-rush drills. But he had a strong day Sunday in the one-on-ones, showing better hands. His length and size – he weighs 270 pounds – is a bonus, and he should eventually be a threat rushing inside. Smith had some good rushes vs. Detroit, but he, too, sometimes got knocked off his path. He is improving, though. Entering camp, some in the organization felt he’d eventually be the starter. His length is noticeable when he stunts or loops inside.
Jackson Jeffcoat: The former undrafted free agent by Seattle alternated between the Redskins’ practice squad and the roster. He started the season finale vs. Dallas and intercepted a pass. He offers some speed – he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds. But he is not a full-time possibility; rather, he’s an option as a situational rusher.
Houston Bates: The undrafted free agent has been a pleasant surprise in the preseason with three sacks so far. His sack vs. Detroit was nothing spectacular – he was unblocked on a bootleg. But what he showed was good awareness and eye discipline – he started inside, then read the bootleg and shot at the quarterback. Bates ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds at his pro day, but he still needs work as a rusher. When trying to turn the corner, he does not get low enough so any speed is neutralized. Still a long way to go for Bates to win a roster spot let alone earn playing time.