Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan this week reaches the halfway point of his rookie season, and counting training camp, he has now been going for 11 weeks straight — almost the equivalent of a full college season.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said that he hasn’t noticed any wearing down or hitting of the rookie wall, and that he is pleased with Kerrigan’s durability and play thus far.
“I don’t think he’s hit the wall,” Haslett said. “I think he’s smart enough to understand – and [linebackers coach] Lou [Spanos] has talked to him about it – it’s a long season, it’s hard. But him not having the offseason probably will help him a little bit from a mental standpoint that he won’t wear down from that standpoint, because I think the rookies that come in and they go through OTAs and mini-camps and got to do all that stuff, mentally they get wore down as the season goes on, but he didn’t have to do that. So I don’t expect him to hit a wall this year.”
Through seven games, Kerrigan is the only player on Washington’s defensive front that has played every snap this season. (Fellow outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who routinely draws double-teams, occasionally goes to the sideline for Rob Jackson to relieve him for about six snaps a game in an attempt to keep Orakpo fresh).
The 6-foot-4, 267-pound Kerrigan has recorded 29 tackles (sixth on the team), two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Haslett knocked on wood about Kerrigan playing every defensive snap. The coach said prior to the season that he expressed to Kerrigan the high expectations the staff had for him as he transitioned from defensive end to outside linebacker in the 3-4.
“The good ones, they can play most of the time, and play the whole season,” Haslett said. “And we told Ryan from the beginning, ‘Now, this is not like college, this is not where you come in and you tap your helmet [to get a substitute]. There ain’t no tapping your helmet here. You got to play the whole time, and you got to play two different positions.’ ”
The two positions of which Haslett spoke referred to Kerrigan’s primary outside linebacker spot and his position in the nickel, where he lines up more as a defensive end.
“I think he has [played well]. He’s done a great job on tight ends,” Haslett said. “Obviously he hasn’t got the sack total that you would like, but he’s got good pressure. [Orakpo is] the same way. Together, I thought they’ve done a great job. That’s why we’ve got sacks inside. … I think it’s because the edges. We’re a much better pass-rushing team.”