RICHMOND — As Ryan Kerrigan enters his third season as a stand-up outside linebacker, he sees significant room for improvement as a pass rusher.
“I need to be more consistent in my pass rushing,” he said Tuesday. “I’m working on developing more countermoves. After watching some film from last year and my rookie year, I would tend to work too much on the outside or right through the O-lineman, and this year I want to be able to have the option of going inside. That kind of keeps the tackle on his toes a little more, so I need to have that versatility in my pass rush game. If something’s not working, I need to be able to work something else.”
Through three practices in shoulder pads, Kerrigan has consistently beaten right tackle Tyler Polumbus with his bull rush. He has stayed lower than Polumbus and has used that leverage to explode up into Polumbus’ chest. He keeps his hands inside and gets generates power from his lower half with his hips.
Kerrigan fielded 10 questions during his media session Tuesday. Four were about how Brian Orakpo’s return will impact him.
Orakpo missed 14 games last season with a torn left pectoral muscle. Offenses occasionally devoted more attention to Kerrigan with Orakpo sidelined, but it’s not as though he was double teamed or chipped by the running back on every pass play.
Kerrigan finished with 8.5 sacks as made the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
He sees Orakpo’s return as a boost to the whole defense, not just his own pass-rushing potential, because Orakpo is such a complete player.
“Obviously everyone knows him as a pass rusher, but seeing him in the run game and now he’s even covering a lot better,” Kerrigan said. “We’ve all improved in our pass coverage, but him specifically, he’s improved a lot in his zone drops. He’s the total package for our defense and he’s going to pay a lot of dividends for us this year.”