WASHINGTON — Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy has been suspended the first four games of the 2017 season by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced on Friday.
Murphy had appealed the decision, which was first reported last month by the Washington Post.
Murphy, 26, is eligible to participate in all offseason workouts with the Redskins. He can also play in preseason games and practice with the team. But his production will need to be replaced early in the season. Murphy finished with nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 2016, which was his third year in the NFL.
“It concerns me a lot,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “I think what [Murphy] did last year, as far as improvement goes, how he had to try to gain weight and then lose weight to do whatever we asked him to do and play whatever position we asked him to play is just the type of guy that he is, so it’s unfortunate that this happened. We’ll have to man the fort for four weeks until he comes back, but I anticipate he’s going to have another strong year.”
A second-round draft pick in 2014, Murphy began last year as a defensive end after gaining weight in the offseason for a position switch. But injuries to the outside linebackers forced him right back into that position and scrapped those plans. In 2015, he’d had just 3.5 sacks. His pass rush skills were still raw.
Murphy teamed with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith as the primary outside linebackers. But Washington needs more at that position and could select another pass rusher in the upcoming NFL draft given Murphy’s status.
Outside linebacker Junior Galette is a huge question mark given the two consecutive years he’s missed with torn Achilles tendons and his recent arrest in Mississippi on charges of disorderly conduct and failing to comply with orders from a police officer.
“We’ve been excited to have Junior the last couple years, and unfortunately, two Achilles’,” Gruden said. “Injuries are a part of football, so [it’s] nothing you could predict. [At] one time, he was one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the game, with his tenacity and his ability to get off on the ball. He has a great, great get off. Hopefully, that hasn’t been affected.”
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