First-round pick Ryan Kerrigan might not start at left outside linebacker in the regular-season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 11. Instead, the Redskins might ease him into the starting lineup as he makes the transition from defensive end.
“I wouldn’t be surprised [by] that,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Wednesday when presented with the possibility that Kerrigan wouldn’t start in Week 1.
Haslett could treat Kerrigan as he did Lorenzo Alexander last season. After the Redskins installed the 3-4 defense, Andre Carter started at left outside linebacker for three games before Alexander took over.
The situations aren’t exactly similar because both Carter and Alexander were switching from the defensive line. This year, the Redskins have reserve linebackers with playing experience in the 3-4 system, such as Rob Jackson.
Kerrigan’s chances of starting were diminished by a bone bruise in his right knee that sidelined him for team drills for more than a week in training camp. Jackson took Kerrigan’s place with the first string in practice.
Kerrigan returned to team drills on Monday, but he hasn’t played at top speed. It’s clear that he’s still learning on the fly, as expected. He’s trying to master coverage responsibilities and rushing the passer from a standing position instead of a three-point stance.
Haslett has measured expectations for Kerrigan’s first preseason game on Friday night against Pittsburgh.
“I’m not really sure what we’ll see, but I know he’s going to play hard,” he said. “Obviously this is his first time standing up. I know he’s a poised kid and he has a pretty good understanding of what we’re doing, so I think we’ll see.”