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The goal is to get Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo and Brandon Jenkins on the field at the same time.
Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) walks with a group of children after the morning practice at the team’s training facility in Richmond earlier this month. Kerrigan is expected to be a major part of a third-down package the Redskins are installing.
Friday, August 16, 2013
RICHMOND — The Redskins have always been known for multiple blitz schemes under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and they’ve added a new wrinkle during this year’s training camp.
Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who traditionally begins a play in a standing position, on occasion has lined up as a tackle in a three-point stance.
The goal is to get all three of the Redskins’ playmaking linebackers — Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo and Brandon Jenkins — on the field at the same time.
“It’s fun to put your hand in the dirt and just get after the ball, no thinking,” Kerrigan said. “It’s been good to have a balance of both techniques.”
The formation will be used mostly in third-and-long and other passing situations, to exploit Jenkins’ natural abilities in his rookie season.
“We’re trying to use him with what he does best at this point, which is rushing the passer,” linebackers coach Bob Slowik said Thursday. “He’s athletic enough to play in coverage, it’s just about processing the packages, which will take awhile.”
Haslett said his schemes can take “two or three years” to properly learn, especially for a player like Jenkins, who was a defensive lineman at Florida State.
That’s led to an immersive training camp for him as he works on adapting to a more rigid culture than he had in college.
“At Florida State, they say to get to your spot and make plays,” Jenkins said. “Now it’s more detailed. You have to get to this spot, and do this or that. You’re guaranteed to make a play if you do the right steps, but it’s a whole lot.”
The coaches don’t want him to sit on the shelf, though, hence the third-down packages.
Orakpo and Kerrigan have made plays their entire careers, and the exhibition game against Tennessee was no different. Each recorded a sack in limited work, impressive for Kerrigan given his new position.
“He’s just a gifted athlete, man,” defensive lineman Chris Baker said. “He can do it all. The [offensive line] kind of lets up, then he goes in there and bull rushes them.”
The Giants have done something similar with Justin Tuck, using the defensive tackle in a standing position in addition to his traditional three-point stance.
It’s the opposite with Kerrigan, who has played most of his pro career standing up. If he has struggled with the adjustment, it hasn’t shown.
“We’re just trying to get our best pass rushers on the field,” Haslett said.
With the defensive coordinator using three players equally capable of getting to the quarterback, third downs may be a headache for opposing offenses this season.
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