- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2016

Trent Murphy showed up at Performance Enhancing Professionals’ sprawling 18,000-square foot facility in February to work out with founder Ian Danney just like he did last year. The plan for Murphy, entering his third season, was to spend the winter months in Scottsdale, Ariz., adhering to a plan designed to help him continue his improvement as an outside linebacker in the Redskins’ 3-4 defense.

Then, a month before players were scheduled to report for the start of team workouts on April 18, Murphy got a call from defensive coordinator Joe Barry. The Redskins wanted Murphy, who played last season at 258 pounds, to transition to defensive end.

Not only was Murphy going to have to learn a new position he hardly played — aside from a rare sub-package at Stanford — he was going to have to gain at least 20 pounds. Danney scrapped the old workout and devised a new one, along with a rigorous diet that Murphy said felt as labor-intensive as the training. The 25-year-old attacked the plan head on and returned to the team weighing 290 pounds, 32 pounds heavier and eager to learn his new role.

“You really have to embrace the grind, which he did,” Danney said. “When you get to a point you can start embracing the fire that’s burning in your legs as your friend, then you’re poised to make great gains and he definitely did that.

“It’s one of those things whether it was by design or by default, they picked the right guy to ask to do that because he’s not going to back down from a challenge and not get mad about it. That worked out well for the Redskins.”

Murphy had been asked to gain substantial weight before, going from 230 to approximately 255 pounds during his sophomore season at Stanford. To start his transformation with the Redskins, Danney decreased the rest time between sets to increase the density of Murphy’s workouts. He also added an extra 90 minutes of soft-tissue work, a proactive measure to maintain Murphy’s mobility, flexibility and health as he packed on extra weight.

“It wasn’t uncommon for him to lay on the ground motionless for 20 minutes after our workouts,” Danney said.

The hardest part, though, was the eating. Danney utilized two chefs to ensure Murphy was constantly ingesting the right food during the 20 hours he was away from the gym. To keep his body fueled during workouts, Murphy took 120 grams of Amino Matrix — which is equivalent to the same amount of amino acids in 19 ounces of raw filet mignon. In addition to breakfast and lunch, Murphy ate two dinners and filled the gaps in between each meal with a variety of shakes.

Danney also diversified the proteins in Murphy’s diet, ranging from beef, chicken and 10 different types of fish. More exotic options included venison, ground kangaroo and ostrich. The variety of proteins ensured Murphy wouldn’t develop an intolerance to others. It was also important for Murphy to get an abundance of healthy fats, which sometimes meant eating spoonfuls of macadamia, coconut and avocado oil.

“It’s just kind of constant discomfort because you’re never really hungry and so you have to kind of watch the clock every two or three hours to make sure you’re getting your calories in, make sure you’re weighing yourself constantly, and I just never want to see the scale go down,” Murphy said. “Next time I get on it, I want to see myself a pound heavier. Even if it’s just a water bottle, that keeps you moving and eventually something sticks.

“It’s more mentally fatiguing than anything else. That’s why I always say you can always drink calories. Chewing, as dumb as it sounds, burns calories.”

On the field, Murphy focused on improving his speed and quickness in short-yardage situations along the defensive line as opposed to the openness of playing linebacker. During organized team activities, which began last week, Murphy has been challenging himself to beak his prior tendencies.

“[One play] I was supposed to be keying the tackle, and it was a run away but I saw the quarterback flash in front of me rolling out and I was like, ‘Oh I’ve got to pull him up on a boot,’ but that’s not my responsibility anymore,” Murphy said. “It’s stuff like that we’ve got to get out of my old habits but I think that will come.”

The Redskins have OTAs the next two weeks and then veteran minicamp June 14-16. After that, Murphy will return to Arizona and work with Danney until he reports to training camp, which begins July 27.

Although Murphy, who is 6-foot-5, feels like he can keep adding weight, the goal is to continue improving his strength-to-weight ratio as opposed to a final scale number. The hope is to make him more explosive in short spaces and coach Jay Gruden is pleased with the progress he’s seen thus far.

“I’m always impressed with Trent and works extremely hard and the transition from base outside linebacker to base defensive end is something he is going to have to deal with,” Gruden said. “His versatility is good he can play end and he can three-technique maybe in some of the nickel stuff and move around. This is the beginning stages for him and this is new to him but I think he will be fine.”

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