Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 26, 34 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
Question of the day
A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.
I’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up firstname.lastname@example.org with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please.
Today’s question is from Twitter:
@Rich_TandlerCSN what's the likelihood of Preston Smith starting right away?— Cash Sharma (@BiggySharms) June 25, 2015
The short answer is that it’s not very likely. But the other answer is that it doesn’t really matter.
If I had $100 in casino chips to bet on who will be lined up at right outside linebacker for the first snap against the Dolphins, I would put $95 on Trent Murphy, last year’s second-round pick, and the other $5 on Preston Smith, this year’s second rounder.
Why? Murphy has eight NFL starts and 595 NFL snaps under his best while Smith has none of either. During OTAs and minicamp this year, Murphy has done nothing that would warrant him losing his starting job. He has gotten bigger and, presumably, stronger and he during OTAs and minicamp he seemed to be more comfortable and confident in his second season of lining up at linebacker (he was an end at Stanford).
Meanwhile, Smith has look liked someone who has a lot to learn. And that is exactly what you should expect from a rookie second-round pick who is just starting the process of converting from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker. He has the physical tools needed to be successful but, as I noted in this post from last week, it will take him some time to get up to speed.
But here’s why who starts doesn’t really matter a whole lot. If you are the second-team right guard, you don’t play unless someone gets injured. Backup quarterbacks wait around until there is a five-alarm emergency of some sort. As a backup OLB, Smith will play a substantial number of snaps.
Last year Murphy did not start the first six games of the season; he was behind Brian Orakpo on the depth chart. But he still played about 30 snaps per game on defense, rotating in with some packages including some where he lined up as a lineman with his hand in the dirt. He relieved Orakpo, played alongside him in nickel situations, and occasionally relieved Ryan Kerrigan (although he takes off very few snaps).
Smith is likely to have a similar role this year. His length will help him in the trenches and he will be able to learn how to pass rush from both a two-point stance and from a down position.
And we’ll see what happens from there. My $100 bet discussed above is only in play for the opener. If Smith catches on quickly and proves to be a better option than Murphy he could be starting and Murphy could be the one coming off of the bench.
The real competition for the starting job could come in 2016 after Smith has a season under his belt. Although we have a long way to go, Smith's realistic chance at getting a starting job starts next year.
—It’s been 180 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 79 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.
—Days until: Redskins training camp starts 34; Preseason opener @ Browns 48; final cuts 71
If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.
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