Rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan believes he is nearing a return to full action after gradually increasing his activity each of the last three days.

Kerrigan, drafted 16th overall out of Purdue, hyperextended his right knee and suffered a bone bruise to the area last Friday. He has been participating in the walk-through portions of practice and an increasing number of positional drills, but has been held out of full-speed action.

The Redskins face the Pittsburgh Steelers Friday in the preseason opener, and Kerrigan is holding out hope that he can return to full speed action this week and be able to play in the game.

“I’m making a lot of progress,” the 6-foot-4, 263-pound Kerrigan said Saturday. “Really, from last Friday to today, it’s night and day. I’m feeling good and can’t wait to get back out on the field.”

Said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan: “I’m not worried about [Kerrigan playing in the Pittsburgh game]. We’ll see how the knee is Monday, see if he can practice. We’re not going to overwork him. We just want to get him in football shape. We want him to become more familiar with our terminology and our system. We’d like him to play as quickly as he can, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Kerrigan switched jersey numbers Saturday from 53 to 91. Kerrigan wore No. 94 at Purdue, but that number belongs to Washington defensive end Adam Carriker. When the Redskins opened camp, No. 91 belonged to defensive end Vonnie Holliday, but Washington traded him to Arizona last Sunday.

“They told me I would probably have the chance to switch numbers at some point, and this number became available,” Kerrigan said. “I wore [No. 91] in the Senior Bowl, so I figured I’d give it a go. It wasn’t that important, but I wanted something different than 53. I feel like this is more suitable for a linebacker, especially in the 3-4 defense.”