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Posted at 11:28 AM ET, 08/18/2011

Ryan Kerrigan eyes growth in homecoming game

When Washington Redskins first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan takes the field Friday night at Lucas Oil Stadium, he will be playing in front of about 20 family members and friends.

Kerrigan, whom Washington drafted 16th overall out of Purdue, grew
up in Muncie, and went to school in Lafayette – which, like his hometown, is less than 90 minutes away from Indianapolis.

Kerrigan remembers going to Colts’ games growing up, but now, his focus is on further improving in the Redskins’ defense and beating Indianapolis.

“I’m really excited. It’ll be really fun to play in front of a lot of family and friends,” Kerrigan says. “But at the same time, it’s a business trip and I’m going there to win.”

The 6-foot-4, 263-pound Kerrigan still is playing catch-up after missing the first week of training camp with a bone bruise to his right knee. But he gradually is becoming more comfortable as he transitions from defensive end to outside linebacker. Last week against Pittsburgh, he started and recorded three tackles – one for a loss – in his professional debut.

Kerrigan acknowledged that his play wasn’t perfect against the Steelers. He was caught out of position at times, and wasn’t able to play as fast as he needed to because he still was feeling his way along, particularly in pass coverage. But he hopes that an additional week of practice will pave the way for growth against the Colts.

“They say the biggest jump you make is from Game 1 to Game 2, and I’m hoping that’s true,” Kerrigan said. “I made a few mental errors last game, but I’m hoping to fix them this week. Just trying to be really detailed, trying to be where I need to be exactly when I need to be there.”

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Kerrigan’s expectations for significant improvement this week are realistic because of the player’s mindset and work ethic.

“Ryan’s a work in progress. He’ll get better every day he’s out there,” Haslett said. “Everything’s new to him--standing up--so the coverage aspect, he’s got to keep getting better at that. He’s a powerful guy that can make a lot of plays just because of his body makeup. … The more he plays, the better he’s going to get.”

By  |  11:28 AM ET, 08/18/2011

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