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Ryan Kerrigan Senses Revived Anticipation

Posted Mar 24, 2014

Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said the arrival of head coach Jay Gruden has given the franchise new life as it tries to move on from a tough 2013 season

Sometimes all it takes is a shot in the arm for a struggling football team to get headed back in the right direction.

That shot in the arm for the Redskins, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said, came Jan. 9, when the team hired Jay Gruden as its 29th coach in franchise history.

Gruden’s arrival – plus the addition of a few key free agents in recent days – has those at Redskins Park feeling much better now than they did Dec. 29, when the Redskins lost 20-6 to the New York Giants to cap an eighth-straight loss to end the season.

Although it’s only March, Kerrigan said it’s never too early to get some positive momentum heading in the right direction.

 “I’d say there is a revised sense of anticipation for this coming season,” Kerrigan recently told Larry Michael in an appearance on Redskins Nation. “Because we know we have the talent to be good – we just have to put it together and execute on the field.”

Kerrigan in 2013 continued his role as one of the more consistent playmakers on the Redskins’ defense, despite battling through a knee injury most of the season that required minor surgery last month.

Playing through the pain, Kerrigan tied his career high in sacks (8.5) and had four forced fumbles to go with 83 tackles.

The Purdue product said he was happy to see the Redskins this offseason use the franchise tag on fellow outside linebacker and Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo, and then go and sign unrestricted free agent defensive end Jason Hatcher, who had a career-high 11 sacks in 2013 for the Dallas Cowboys.

“He does a lot for the run game and the passing game,” Kerrigan said of Hatcher, who had two sacks and a forced fumble in two games against the Redskins last season. “I mean, he did pretty well against us last year for the Cowboys, so it’s exciting to have him on our side this time.”

Meanwhile, Gruden’s hiring means the returning players will have to get used to a brand new system of practice plans, meetings and other daily football-related activities. But because the team also retained several assistant coaches – like Sean McVay (now offensive coordinator) and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett – Kerrigan said the players can utilize that continuity to their advantage.

 “I think we will be a lot better,” Kerrigan said.  “I mean we’ve got, still, most of the same guys coming back that know the system, that have been in the system for a number of years and a lot of continuity with the coaching staff defensively, which is good – despite losing a couple coaches.”

Gruden – a rookie head coach who was the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator the past three seasons – told Michael the new job is a grind, but is something he’s certainly embracing.

“There is a lot of work to do, and it's a grind right now,” Gruden said. “But it's a lot of fun and I'm fortunate to be in this position.”




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