On the game's biggest of stages against his team's fiercest of rivals, rookie linebacker Trent Murphy said he is ready to "ball out."
Murphy – the Redskins' top choice in the spring's NFL Draft – is expected to make his first-career start Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, replacing three-time Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo, who was placed on the season-ending IR list Monday with a torn pectoral muscle.
"It's a huge week," Murphy told reporters on Wednesday. "What a cool opportunity to be able to get my first start on Monday Night Football against Dallas. [I] can't ask for much more than that."
The rookie pass rusher has already seen his fair share of action this season, recording 14 total stops, including a five-tackle effort Week 4 against the New York Giants and two stops against the Titans last Sunday.
With the added playing time, Murphy hopes to find success throughout the game by using his "bread and butter" to set up a few new moves for the Cowboys' offensive tackles.
"You want to stick to your bread and butter and that'll set other stuff up if it's not working," he said. "The good thing about having that many snaps is you have time set other moves up or make counters to your previous rushers."
With Orakpo done for the year, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said both Murphy and fellow outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan have to step up to fill the void.
Kerrigan – whose 6.5 sacks are the third-most in the NFL this season – said replacing Orakpo is easier said than done.
"He has great run/pass keys," Kerrigan said. "He's really intelligent, good feel for the game, so that's definitely something we're going to miss. He's the one that everyone looked to and he's a tough loss for us."
But Kerrigan said he's been impressed with Murphy from the time he's arrived to Redskins Park during the offseason through the middle of this season.
A consensus All-American as a senior for Stanford, Murphy currently sits third on the school's career sacks list with 32.5, including 15 as a senior which tied him for the most in the NCAA.
"Murph's really versatile," Kerrigan said. "He can line up anywhere across the line of scrimmage and he's an effective pass rusher anywhere. He's an active player. That's why he led the nation in sacks last year."
In his first-career start, Murphy will get formally introduced to one of the longest-standing rivalries in sports.
Against the Cowboys, Murphy, as well as Kerrigan, will be dealing with a combined 145 starts between tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free, who this season have helped pave the way for the NFL's best rushing attack (159.7 yards per game) and third-best offense (402.1 total yards per game).
Go behind the scenes as Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy goes in front of the camera for his 2014 photo shoot.
"It'll be a great challenge, but the first thing I did was watch all the plays where those guys have been beat before," Murphy said. "Everyone has their weaknesses and where they can make improvements, so you look to try to take advantage of that and those guys."
Now that Murphy is running with the starters, Gruden said he is anxious to see how the second-round pick performs for an entire game.
"He has done a good job. [But] being a No 3. and being a No. 1 are a little bit different," Gruden said. "So he is going to have to really make sure his stamina is in place and make sure his mental toughness is in place because they are going to come after him."
In the week leading up to his first start, Murphy said he is focusing on preparing his mind, so that when the ball is snapped on Monday night, he'll be fully prepared for his moment in the spotlight.
"The more work I put in, the more prepared and confident I'll be going into the game," he said. "That's where I'm sitting in bed Monday night, I want to rest assured that I did everything I possible could to be prepared, and now I'm just going to go ball out."