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Linebackers Need To Step Up After Galette Injury

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With Junior Galette out for the year, the Redskins will now rely on Preston Smith, Trent Murphy and Jackson Jeffcoat among others to generate a pass rush opposite Ryan Kerrigan.

Seeing any teammate go down to injury is tough. Seeing them lay on the ground writhing in pain in a controlled practice session may be even tougher.

Check out images of rookie linebacker Preston Smith during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.

But with Junior Galette now out for the season following a torn Achilles suffered Wednesday at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., the team needs its younger linebackers primed for an increase in reps.

They are all up for the challenge.

While Ryan Kerrigan remains a key cog on the defense, Preston Smith, Trent Murphy and Jackson Jeffcoat are the three most expected to see more action on Kerrigan's opposite side.

"I always have the mentality next man up," Smith said Wednesday. "Whether it's a guy goes out for a week or something… I have to step up and take on that role for playing for him, doing my role and just playing my part and just doing what I do to contribute to the team's success the best way I can."

A rookie out of Mississippi State, Smith has been impressive in the Redskins' first two preseason games, recording a team-high 11 tackles.

The 6-foot-5, 271 pounder says whether he'll be asked to step into the starting lineup or simply be a rotational player, his mindset is always the same.

"You never know when it'll be your time's going to come to play or it's going to be your time to step up and start," he said. "Wherever you may be, but don't be scared of your moment when it's your time to play or your card's been pulled. Me, I'm just ready for whenever I can get out there and play and get out there and show them [that] I can. I'm just ready for my moment to go out there and show my coaches and teammates that I can be a big contributor to this team."

Murphy – a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft – drew rave reviews throughout the offseason, as the Stanford product put on several pounds of muscle, and it showed.

A countdown of the Top 10 images of Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy during the 2014 season.

He was getting around the ends a little quicker and was better suited to handle the interior of the offensive line.

"My mindset is the same really, just trying to get better every day," Murphy said. "I just want to play fast really, try and have fun. Preseason game, sometimes guys lose sight of just having fun out there."

Jeffcoat, meanwhile, has been one of the brightest young talents on the defense during the preseason.

A college defensive end who was converted to his current positon of outside linebacker last spring in his pursuit for a role in the NFL, Jeffcoat has two sacks in as many games.

While he played some at the end of last season, even recording a sack and interception, he feels better suited for linebacker this season.

"Working on your strength, your lifts and getting stronger with that, and just working on your get off over and over again," Jeffcoat said. "When you get tired, you have to work getting off the ball fast, so that was one thing I worked on this off season."

Jeffcoat worked with Redskins head strength and conditioning Mike Clark and at Ignition Athletics in Cincinnati to try and get himself in the best shape possible this offseason.

"I feel like I got my explosion back as far as getting off the ball," he said. "That's the thing my dad always told me to do and is what makes a pass rusher, getting of the ball."

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