Adjustments Not At All A Problem In Rookie Season For Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan
ASHBURN – As a first-round selection in April’s NFL Draft, Ryan Kerrigan was already held to a certain level of expectation even before he stepped on the field for the Washington Redskins.
Kerrigan didn’t have the obligatory time with the team, though, resulting from the five-month owners’ lockout. He missed organized team activities and the teams’ mini-camps, and by virtue of a short injunction in the legal fight between the league and the players’ association, he was even fortunate to be able to take home a playbook during the summer.
The thought was that Kerrigan would work into a starting role at some point this season, with Lorenzo Alexander continuing to start at outside linebacker opposite Brian Orakpo while Kerrigan adjusted.
It wasn’t necessary. Not only has the 6-foot-4, 263-pound Kerrigan started all seven games to date for the Washington Redskins, he’s been on the field for all 432 defensive plays – the only Redskins player to do so.
“The good ones usually can play most of the time and play the whole season,” said defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. “We told Ryan from the beginning now, this is not like college – this is not where you come in and you tap your helmet [when you want a break]. There ain’t no tapping your helmet here. You go the whole time and you play two different positions. I think he’s a really smart kid and he understands that.”
Kerrigan’s responsibilities have been daunting. He’s been asked to play not only on the outside, but also move to defensive end when the team goes to its nickel package. A defensive end at Purdue, Kerrigan wasn’t particularly familiar with dropping back into pass coverage, but thus far, he’s held his own.
He has 29 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown this season. He was the NFC defensive rookie of the month for September and was a runner-up in October.
“You don’t want to lose any guys that obviously are excellent football players and his experience as a young player is invaluable,” said head coach Mike Shanahan. “Hopefully he can stay healthy and keep on helping our football team.”