Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett counted themselves as fortunate to have landed inside linebacker Bryan Kehl on waivers on Wednesday.
Washington signed Kehl this past offseason, and he shined during the preseason, recording a team-high 16 tackles, three pass breakups, two sacks and an interception. But he didn’t survive final roster cuts because of a numbers crunch. Kehl signed with Kansas City, but played only sparingly, and was released on Tuesday.
The Redskins needed help at the inside linebacker position with starter London Fletcher hobbled by a sprained left ankle, and his backup, rookie Keenan Robinson, on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. So Washington put in a claim for Kehl and got him.
“He really handled himself well here both on special teams, inside, outside linebacker,” Shanahan said. “He’s very bright, very competitive, and we were very fortunate he was out there.”
Said Haslett: “Obviously, he knows the defense, and he’s one of those guys we wanted to keep him, we just didn’t have the roster spot. So, with London kind of nicked up there, and us hurting with Keenan, it’s another guy that can go in and you not have to worry that he’ll do everything right.”
Kehl, a fifth-year veteran, will be used primarily on special teams Monday night when the Redskins host the New York Giants, but Haslett said he likely will see time on defense as well. Kehl reported for practice on Thursday, and didn’t show any struggles as he got back up to speed with Washington’s schemes.
“He actually got his notebook out and was kind of studying it on the plane and when he got here,” Haslett said. “He’s a smart kid.”
Asked about his return to Washington, Kehl told reporters: “I’ve wanted to be here the whole time. I’m just glad to come back here. Glad to be here.”
In other linebacker-related news, Shanahan was asked about defensive lineman Jason Babin, for whom Washington also put in a claim on Wednesday (a day after the Philadelphia Eagles released him). Babin, however, was awarded to the Jacksonville Jaguars because they had priority in the NFL’s waiver claims process because of an inferior record to Washington’s.
Shanahan said: “Since he’s not with us, and he’s on another football team, I’ll just let that go. But we thought enough about him to put a claim on him. He’s an excellent pass rusher. Everybody knows what he’s done. I know a number of guys that know him quite well, so obviously we put a claim on him. But we didn’t get him.”