Injuries hit Redskins' linebacker corps
(TSX / STATS) -- ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy was not going to participate in the first four games of the season because of a four-game NFL suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Now, he is lost for the season thanks to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered on Thursday.
Murphy, a second-round pick in 2014 and entering a contract year, was lost for the season when teammate Zach Brown knocked a Baltimore Ravens running back into his knee during Thursday's preseason opener at Baltimore. What was first thought to be a minor injury instead turned out to be far worse when Murphy underwent an MRI exam on Friday.
"It's too bad," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "He was really having a great offseason program and then he followed it up with a really good training camp so far. It's unfortunate; just wrong place at the wrong time in pro football."
Murphy's absence puts extra pressure on Washington's suspect pass rush. Murphy had a breakthrough season in 2016 with nine sacks after having just six total sacks in his first two seasons.
The Redskins employ the always-reliable Ryan Kerrigan at outside linebacker, but behind him remain question marks that only grow without Murphy and other assorted injuries.
Preston Smith, a second-round pick in 2015, slipped from eight sacks as a rookie to 4.5 last season and drew heat from coaches and teammates alike who demanded more production. He hurt his ankle in an Aug. 5 practice and is in a walking boot.
Junior Galette has the track record with 22 sacks combined in 2014 and 2015 with the New Orleans Saints, but he has never played a down for the Redskins thanks to back-to-back season-ending Achilles tendon injuries. Galette missed Thursday's game against the Ravens with a hamstring injury that could keep him out a week at least.
Yet another second-round pick, Ryan Anderson, who was chosen in this past draft after a stellar career at Alabama, suffered a stinger in Thursday's 23-3 loss to Baltimore. But Anderson is expected to play a bigger role all season with Murphy gone. Even roster long-shot Lynden Trail is "banged up," Gruden said.
"We'll see how our depth is here soon because we have a lot of guys that are banged up a little bit, that won't be practicing," Gruden said. "So, the negative is they won't be practicing, the positive is we're going to get some guys some work and see how they do."
Notes: Safety Su'a Cravens sustained a knee injury in Thursday's preseason game against Baltimore. He is expected to miss some practice time with swelling in the knee, but the injury is not considered long term and there is no structural damage. ... Safety Montae Nicholson, a 2017 fourth-round pick from Michigan State, practiced at full strength on Saturday for the first time. He had shoulder surgery in March and missed the entire offseason program and training camp so far. ... Tight end Jordan Reed remains sidelined with a toe injury. He missed Thursday's opener against Baltimore and has yet to practice during training camp. Reed is trying special orthotics to ease the discomfort and the hope is he can practice after the Aug. 19 preseason game against Green Bay. ... Cornerback CB Fabian Moreau, a 2017 third-round pick from UCLA, practiced on Saturday for the first time. He tore his pectoral muscle during UCLA's Pro Day in March and had missed all of Washington's offseason work and training camp.
Updated August 12, 2017