Just before training camp started, Ryan Kerrigan signed a five-year, $57.5 million contract extension. The Redskins and their fans are going to start seeing what the team got for its investment on Sunday.
Kerrigan did not play a single snap during the four preseason games. He missed most of the team’s offseason program after have a knee procedure done in the spring. Although he participated fully in most of the team’s practices during training camp with an occasional veteran’s day off, the decision was made to keep him out of the exhibition games as a precaution.
The regular season starts on Sunday and, of course, Kerrigan will answer the call. Not only has he played in 64 of a possible 64 games since coming into the league, he has rarely missed a snap. As a rookie in 2011 he played in 100 percent of the team’s defensive plays and his percentage stayed high in the three years that followed.
Since he hasn’t had the workload that he usually has leading up to the start of the season, however, he might have to ease his way back into the flow of the game. Now, we’re talking about easing in in Kerrigan’s terms. He still should play most of the snaps. How much he plays will be up to him, according to Jay Gruden.
“I think that might happen depending on how he is with his cardio throughout the course of the game,” said Gruden when asked if Kerrigan’s snaps would be limited. “He’s in great shape. Ryan’s going to keep himself in great shape. But as you all know, the game of football is a physical … it’s going to be a hot Sunday afternoon how he handles guys blocking him and rushing the passer consistently will determine how many plays he plays. He’s the type of guy that’s really on his own pitch count. You’re tired you get yourself out. If you’re not tired, you stay your butt in there. I think he’ll gauge that . . . Ryan is on his own.”
When Kerrigan is out, the Redskins likely will line up rookie Preston Smith on the left side of the defense. Smith got the starts there while Kerrigan was sitting out the preseason. He did record a couple of sacks but both came against the other team’s backup offensive linemen. The organization is very excited about his prospects and it will be good if he can be effective playing a few extra snaps in relief of Kerrigan.