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Ryan Kerrigan is excited for Redskins to shift to a 4-3 defense this season

Ryan Kerrigan is excited for Redskins to shift to a 4-3 defense this season

Only three players -- Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt and Von Miller -- have more sacks than Redskins' pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan since 2011, the same year Washington drafted the Purdue product 16th overall.

A year ago, the pass rusher turned in the worst season of his career, one he explained he "never puts on film again." But as Kerrigan enters the final year of his current contract with the Burgundy and Gold, there's been one major change on defense that positions the pass rusher for a bounce-back campaign.

Under new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, Kerrigan will line up as an edge rusher in a 4-3 base defense, marking the first time the pass rusher will have played in that defensive scheme in his professional career. In a Zoom call with local media on Thursday, Kerrigan said he is excited for the change.

"I'm excited to get to work in a 4-3 for the first time in my NFL career. I've been a 3-4 guy my whole career," Kerrigan said. "To have the chance to play in a system like this is really exciting. Just going through the Zoom meetings the past couple of months getting to learn what they expect from us on the edge, it's exciting."

By transitioning from an outside linebacker in a 3-4 to and edge rusher in a 4-3, Kerrigan will presumably have more opportunities to rush after the passer than he did previously. Under previous defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, Kerrigan and other edge rushers were often asked to drop back in coverage, which allowed opponents to find mismatches and attack them.

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In the 4-3 base, Kerrigan will have the opportunity to play more forward, something the pass rusher has explained he hasn't truly had the chance to do since his days at Purdue.

"It's exciting for us up front. They want us playing fast, they want us playing physical, they want us playing in our opponent's backfield," Kerrigan said. "It's kind of similar to how they used my teammates and myself in college, that kind of way up front. So that's kind of exciting for me."

Although at times it appeared rather obvious, Kerrigan refused to say that he was misused under Manusky and in previous systems.

"I don't feel like I was misused over the years. I feel like that's what the defense called for," Kerrigan said. "Sometimes they wanted us rushing, sometimes they wanted us in coverage. That's really all defenses, 4-3s included. Every now and then, you're going to have to drop, just not quite as much as we did in the 3-4."

When asked about the change, Kerrigan simply continued to express his excitement for what's to come this fall.

"They said they want us going forward and doing what we do best, and that's what we're excited about doing," Kerrigan said.

RELATED: KERRIGAN WILL PLAY LESS IN 2020 BUT COULD PRODUCE A LOT MORE

Kerrigan is not the only one who is expected to benefit from the schematic change on defense. Washington drafted pass rusher Chase Young second overall in April, and the Ohio State product is expected to be a future star and an instant contributor right away. Washington also has 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat, who showed plenty of promise towards the end of his rookie season.

With Kerrigan entering the final year of his deal and the Redskins clear investments in young pass rushers, there was a time earlier this offseason where it was fair to wonder what Kerrigan's role in 2020 would be.

But in January, head coach Ron Rivera said on the record that the 31-year-old would be part of the team's plan this season. Even if Kerrigan loses snaps to both Young and Sweat, he'll still be in a position to make an impact when he's on the field.

"I guess we'll just see how it plays out when the game time comes," Kerrigan said on splitting reps this season. "I'm just hoping to make as many plays as possible, and I think this defense will give us that opportunity upfront."

Although Kerrigan is contractually only on the books for this season, the pass rusher repeatedly said he hopes to finish his career with the only franchise he's ever played for.

"I obviously hope to be here for the duration of my football career, however long that is," Kerrigan said. "I'm hoping to be a big part of this team and this defense."

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Chris Cooley out of Washington Football organization, radio broadcast

Chris Cooley out of Washington Football organization, radio broadcast

Chris Cooley knew his time with the Washington Football Team came to a close a few months back, but he wants fans to know how much he enjoyed it and that he has no hard feelings about his departure. 

"The Redskins provided a great job for me for the last six years," Cooley said Thursday morning in an interview on The Team 980. "They were the Redskins then, and the Washington Football Team will not provide a great job for me."

The team finalized their new radio broadcast this week, announcing that DeAngelo Hall would serve as the analyst alongside Julie Donaldson as the host and Bram Weinstein doing play-by-play. Hall essentially replaces Cooley, but the former Washington tight end believes Hall will do a great job. 

"I can talk about it but I’m not going to talk about it," Cooley said. "I just wanted to say I think DeAngelo Hall is going to be pretty good at it."

Cooley also confirmed he's out of the organization completely, so fans should not expect any of the podcasts or video work he used to provide on the team's website. Kevin Sheehan, who hosted a morning show with Cooley on The Team 980 for a few years and conducted the interview, hinted that perhaps a reunion could be in the works, or at least more appearances. 

A tight end in Washington for nine seasons, Cooley twice made the Pro Bowl and recorded 429 catches for more than 4,700 yards and 33 touchdowns. A fan favorite throughout his career, Cooley became a rock star traveling with the team for the last six seasons for radio broadcasts. At road rallies Washington fans would besiege Cooley for autographs and pictures.

RELATED: LONDON FLETCHER TO JOIN WASHINGTON FOOTBALL BROADCAST

While it was known privately for some time that Cooley wanted a job in coaching, he revealed that publicly while speaking with Sheehan. 

"It was going to become a tough decision in the future for me," Cooley said of the radio job. "Over the last few years I've had this dream that I would become an NFL football coach. It is not an easy job to acquire."

He explained that he had an opportunity for a coaching internship with another team for this fall, but the grind required for young coaches to grow in the industry was not something Cooley wanted to put his family through. He has two young children. 

"Moving forward in the next phase of my life I can’t spend every weekend on the road," Cooley said. 

Washington Football media executive Donaldson tweeted her support of Cooley on Thursday morning, saying, "A decision was made at the beginning of the year that Chris Cooley would no longer be a part of the broadcast team. Personally, I loved listening to Cooley and have the upmost respect for him and his work. He’s one of a kind and will always be around as a beloved alum."

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London Fletcher will also be a part of the Washington Football Team's 2020 game day coverage

London Fletcher will also be a part of the Washington Football Team's 2020 game day coverage

DeAngelo Hall won't be the only longtime defender to cover his former squad on game days in 2020.

On Thursday, the Washington Football Team revealed that London Fletcher will serve as an analyst on their postgame shows during the season. This comes after announcing on Monday that Hall will be one-third of the organization's radio booth, along with Bram Weinstein and Julie Donaldson.

Fletcher was a standout for the Burgundy and Gold from 2007 to 2013 and is one of the more beloved players of the past few decades. Most recently, the former linebacker had been working for CBS Sports as an on-air personality.

The move is just the latest in the team's effort to revamp its media efforts.

Hall, Weinstein and Donaldson will replace Larry Michael, Chris Cooley and Doc Walker, while Fletcher represents a new voice as well.

Those decisions have received various levels of approval — many fans seem to be especially upset by the loss of Cooley, who was popular for his hardcore and in-depth comments — but the call to hire Fletcher should be widely accepted. 

The only question remaining is: Do they know how to spell his name yet?

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