The Washington Redskins have had their share of defensive issues in recent times, due to injuries and inefficiency. The Philadelphia Eagles exacerbated those issues, rushing for 263 yards in their 33-27 Week 1 road victory over the Redskins.
However, Washington left outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan remains one of the Redskins’ few consistent bright spots on defense. He batted a lateral by Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick, causing a fumble that was recovered and returned for a touchdown by Redskins’ cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Kerrigan has also returned two interceptions for touchdowns in his short career, which solidifies his knack for big plays on defense.
Kerrigan left the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ game due to concussion like symptoms. However, according to columnist Mike Jones of www.washingtonpost.com, Kerrigan has passed all of his required concussion tests. Furthermore, Kerrigan was told by doctors that he hadn’t actually sustained a concussion. He resumed participation in team practice on Wednesday, and barring any setbacks, should be set to make his 34th consecutive start for Washington against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.
This is excellent news for the Redskins’ defense, who is struggling to find some continuity. Strong safety Brandon Meriweather is expected to play against the Packers after recovering from various knee injuries. However, he can’t be expected to make a solid impact, considering he’s only played in one game since being acquired by the Redskins before the 2012 season. As unheralded rookies, free safety Bacarri Rambo and cornerback David Amerson aren’t expected to make a solid impact on defense either. Rambo missed several tackles in the Philadelphia game as Washington’s starter at safety, which indicates the team will experience growing pains at the position.
Right outside linebacker Brian Orakpo recorded three tackles in his first game back in almost a year against Philadelphia. It may take him some time to revert to the effective pass rushing form that earned him Pro Bowl berths after the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Finally, inside linebacker London Fletcher is still playing at a high level. But at 38 years old, it’s hard to tell how much longer Fletcher can sustain this level.
At 25, Kerrigan has yet to reach his prime as an NFL player. The pressure’s already on the Washington offense to maintain scoring efficiency in an effort to win games. Losing Kerrigan for any extended period eliminates the pass rushing consistency he provides to complete Orakpo. If the Redskins are going to defeat the Packers, they will need Kerrigan to provide clarity to the defense. If that happens, another crisis on defense will have been avoided.