Trent Murphy's big play provides momentum boost in position switch

RICHMOND, Virginia -- The transition will take time, something the Washington Redskins and Trent Murphy both know. But that doesn’t mean the Redskins don’t want Murphy to contribute early after switching from linebacker to defensive end.

And that’s why Murphy liked what happened in practice Saturday. He read a screen play, knew he was in a good spot, then made a leaping, sort of twisting interception of quarterback Kirk Cousins that resulted in a pick-six.

“I’m pumped about that play,” Murphy said. “Familiar territory. I did that twice in college, so to do it out here was awesome. I love that feeling.”

What he liked even more was why that play happened. It stems from a growing comfort level at end, but also his instincts. Make no mistake, Murphy still has a ways to go. When the Redskins signed Adam Carriker in 2010, they switched him from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 end. He made a huge jump his second season at the position.

For Murphy, he read offensive tackle Trent Williams, and once Williams sprinted to the outside he knew a screen was coming. Ends are taught to then turn and run to the receiver on the play.

“But I felt I was on the track between the quarterback and the receiver, so I stopped and read the QB at that point,” Murphy said. “It shows my instincts are still there and that I can make plays from that position. It also shows I’m more comfortable and getting familiar with the scheme and playing that position.”

To help prepare for this season, Murphy worked out in Atlanta with former Falcons end Chuck Smith, now a trainer. If nothing else, it solidified Murphy’s new way of thinking as a pass-rusher. The topic came up partly because I noticed Murphy wasn’t using as many moves -- or so it seemed -- as, say, two years ago. In a one-on-one he was able to get into Williams' chest one time for an effective push. He’ll never wow with speed, but he can be more effective.

“[Smith] said the great pass-rushers don’t change moves, no matter who they’re going against,” Murphy said. “That’s big, to try and dictate terms to the offensive line and not change who you are every play. It messes with your game. You cut down and really simplify the game.”