Ryan Kerrigan accepts bigger leadership role

LEESBURG, Va. -- The transformation happened rather soon, taking only four years. And Ryan Kerrigan understands what it means. He’s not that old, but he’s older than most of the other Washington Redskins linebackers and with that comes added responsibility.

Kerrigan wants to become a leader.

"I’m kind of the elder statesman in the room now, as weird as it is to say. It’s kind of my role now," Kerrigan said. "I kind of do [like it]. I enjoyed that role as a senior at Purdue when we had a lot of young guys, so I kind of embrace that."

Kerrigan said part of that ascension is why he became the host of the Leukemia Golf Classic, which was held Monday. He took over for departed linebacker Brian Orakpo. Often, the host of this event was a team leader, including former Redskins quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Mark Brunell.

But, really, it’s about him exerting his personality more in the locker room and on the field. Kerrigan is coming off his best season, with 13.5 sacks. He's also entering into the final year of his contract, but talks already have begun on an extension.

"From what I’ve seen early in the offseason It’ll come out more naturally than I would expect," he said. "You look around and see you’re the guy that’s been here the longest, so you’ve got to show them the ropes."

Inside linebacker Perry Riley has been with Washington one more year than Kerrigan. But part of the leadership role includes being the face of the defense, and Riley, an insightful player, shies away from camera interviews. Keenan Robinson, entering his fourth season, took on a leadership role last season -- his first as a starter. Orakpo was a strong presence and voice for the defense when he played. But, now, the other top outside linebackers include Trent Murphy (second year) and Preston Smith (rookie). Of course, the leader from 2007-13 was now-retired linebacker London Fletcher.

Kerrigan said he won’t "keep my mouth shut as much." That means sharing the information he’s learned during his first four years.

"Before, my first couple years, when we were working out or whatnot, and you see a guy not doing something right, or might need a little bit of coaching, I might keep my mouth shut," Kerrigan said. "But now, I want to help the guys along and say, 'Hey, use this footwork, or do this move with your hands,' so it’ll just be more little things like that."