After Trent Murphy played a limited role in the Washington Redskins’ Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive coordinator Joe Barry featured the outside linebacker more heavily in the rotation along with Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan.
Murphy played 34 and 37 snaps against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, respectively, which more than doubled his playing time in Week 1 when he played 15 snaps. Perhaps what was more noticeable last week against the Giants was when Murphy, not Kerrigan, was on the field in a critical third-down scenario.
Barry, meanwhile, said last Thursday that he wanted to incorporate all three linebackers to keep a fresh rotation throughout the game.
In the Redskins’ 31-20 victory against the Cleveland Browns, Murphy was needed in an even greater capacity once Kerrigan injured his left elbow on the first play of the second quarter. Kerrigan said he tried to come back in the game but was in too much pain. He played just eight snaps.
Murphy logged 66 of the Redskins’ 72 defensive snaps and continued his improved play. He sacked Browns quarterback Cody Kessler — his fourth in the last three games — and had four pressures. Through four games, Murphy has already eclipsed his career-high sack total of 3.5, which he set last season.
What is impressive is that Murphy has been this productive, despite the fact that he gained nearly 30 pounds in the offseason to transition to defensive end, and then quickly lost most of it after the team hoped to move him back to outside linebacker. He’s retained most of the strength he gained, though, and it showed on Sunday. Murphy rammed his way through a block by right tackle Austin Pasztor, plus a chip-block from running back Isaiah Crowell, and dropped Kessler for a 6-yard loss.
Offense (total out of 62 snaps): QB Kirk Cousins (62), LT Trent Williams (62), LG Arie Kouandjio (62), C Spencer Long (62), RG Brandon Scherff (62), RT Morgan Moses (62), TE Jordan Reed (55), WR DeSean Jackson (48), WR Pierre Garcon (44), RB Matt Jones (41), WR Jamison Crowder (34), TE Vernon Davis (34), RB Chris Thompson (20), TE Niles Paul (18), WR Ryan Grant (12), OT Ty Nsekhe (2), RB Rob Kelley (1), WR Rashad Ross (1).
Defense (total out of 72 snaps): FS Will Blackmon (72), CB Josh Norman (72), ILB Will Compton (70), OLB Trent Murphy (66), OLB Preston Smith (63), CB Quinton Dunbar (56), DE Chris Baker (47), ILB Mason Foster (45), CB Kendall Fuller (45), SS David Bruton (43), DE Ziggy Hood (42), SS Duke Ihenacho (36), DE Ricky Jean Francois (30), ILB Su’a Cravens (27), DT Cullen Jenkins (19), DE Kendall Reyes (19), OLB Houston Bates (11), CB Greg Toler (9), OLB Ryan Kerrigan (8), DT Matt Ioannidis (7), ILB Terence Garvin (3), ILB Martrell Spaight (2).
Special teams (total out of 23 snaps): Bates (18), Everett (14) Paul (14), Garvin (14), Foster (12), Murphy (11), Ihenacho (11), K Dustin Hopkins (11), Spaight (10), Blackmon (10), Nsekhe (9), P Tress Way (8), LS Nick Sundberg (8), Dunbar (8), Cravens (8), Toelr (7), Fuller (7), Bruton (6), Compton (6), Moses (5), Long (5), Scherff (5), Kouandjio (5), Hood (5), Ioannidis (5), Jenkins (4), Jean Francois (4), Smith (4), Norman (4), Grant (4), Thompson (4), Crowder 1), Kelley (1).