“I’ve never been in a meeting without him. I’ve never been in an NFL practice without him,” linebacker Ryan Anderson said. “So, it’s a lot different. It feels so weird. I’ve kind of been sad about that all week. Just like not having him around, he’s a good dude. He’s a guy you look forward to seeing at work every day.”
Kerrigan sits two sacks shy of tying Dexter Manley’s franchise record of 91 with five games remaining on the schedule. The 2019 season has been a slow one as he sits on 4½ sacks. Kerrigan’s single-season low was 7½ sacks as a rookie.
The Redskins aren’t planning any significant changes to scheme, but Anderson is expected to start opposite rookie Montez Sweat and both are expected to have increased roles. This will be the first start for Anderson this season, and he has one sack in 2019. Sweat has started every game and has 3½ sacks.
The team signed linebacker Nate Orchard this week, and he has a chance to be active and involved as a pass rusher.
“He’s a consummate pro,” interim head coach Bill Callahan said. “There is no better example of what a pro should be in the NFL. … It’s an opportunity for everybody to step up. … Everybody needs to up their game and take pride in that and take the challenge of playing like a Ryan Kerrigan.”
The biggest opportunity comes for Anderson. The third-year veteran was in line to start opposite Kerrigan when Preston Smith signed a free agent deal with the Green Bay Packers. Sweat, however, was drafted with the No. 26 pick in April and has started from Day 1.
Anderson, a second-round pick in 2017, will enter the final year of his rookie deal in 2020 and would like to have a strong finish this season.
“It’s a chance for me to step up,” Anderson said. “Not only to produce and play but sort of lead Sweat and Orchard and the other guys in the room that have to play. Because everybody’s role increases. No matter what happens with me, I’ve got to be there for them. How he’s been there for me and everybody else. It’s a little more responsibility, but I feel like I’m ready for it and looking forward to it.”
The Redskins will also be without receiver Paul Richardson Jr., who continues to deal with a hamstring injury. Rookie Kelvin Harmon has stepped into that spot with Richardson out.
Running back Chris Thompson (toe) and defensive lineman Daron Payne (ankle) are officially questionable. Both practiced on a limited basis all week.
Panthers offensive tackle Greg Little (ankle) is listed as doubtful, and offensive tackle Taylor Moton (knee) is questionable to play.