Redskins Outside Linebackers 2015 Preseason Preview

1 of 2

Aug 1, 2015; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) and linebacker Houston Bates (45) participate in drills during afternoon practice as part of day three of training camp at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins have improved their depth at many positions under General Manager, Scot McCloughan. The greatest depth among all positions is at outside linebacker. Despite the loss of oft-injured Brian Orakpo, the Redskins enter the 2015 season with the best group of outside linebackers that they have had since switching to a 3-4 defense.

Ryan Kerrigan

Ryan Kerrigan is the unquestioned leader of the Redskins’ outside linebackers. He led the Redskins with 13.5 sacks and was ranked seventh in the entire NFL in 2014. Kerrigan also finished fourth in the league with 22 quarterback hurries.

Kerrigan has increased his production every season that he has been in the NFL. He also led the NFL in forced fumbles in 2014 with five. Entering his fifth season in the league, Kerrigan will be looking to lead the Redskins’ defense in order to help them much improve in 2014.

Kerrigan had minor off-season surgery and has not yet played in the 2015 preseason. The preseason isn’t very important for a veteran such as Kerrigan who keeps himself in top football shape with a rigorous off-season workout program. The Redskins clearly have confidence in him after signing Kerrigan to a new $57.5 million, five year contract this summer.

The Redskins list Kerrigan as a starter at weakside outside linebacker on their depth chart. He has previously been primarily a left outside linebacker with the team due to being deaf in his left ear. The Redskins have been switching their outside linebackers from side to side during the 2015 preseason and I would expect that to continue into the regular season.

Junior Galette

The Redskins signed Junior Galette as a free agent after he was released by the New Orleans Saints in July. Galette is a very talented pass rusher, but had off-the-field problems with the Saints. If Galette continues with his previous production that he had with New Orleans, he will provide the Redskins with quality book-end pass rushers that they haven’t had since Charles Mann and Dexter Manley played with the team.

Galette had ten sacks last season with the Saints and three forced fumbles. His 29 quarterback hurries were second to only JJ Watt in the entire NFL. Galette had two safeties in 2014, which is very rare and was tops in NFL in that category. He also had 12 sacks in 2013.

More from Commanders News

Galette began the 2014 season playing a majority of the defensive snaps for the Saints. By the end of the season though, he was splitting time with other players and playing less than half of the defensive snaps. Maybe due to Galette’s off field concerns, he was almost exclusively a pass rushing specialist toward the end of the season and did not start the final three games.

Galette will still be a pass rushing force for the Redskins. He is getting paid the veteran minimum salary for the 2015 season and will be highly motivated to earn a new contract in 2016. Despite the motivation to succeed, I expect Galette to be somewhat of a pass rushing specialist for the Redskins just as he was for the Saints late in the 2014 season.

Galette has not played in any preseason games for the Redskins yet this year. I did take a look at a few of his games with the Saints in 2014 and he provided a consistent pass rush play after play as his stats suggest. Galette also shown good strength versus the run and hustled in pursuit most of the time.

Trent Murphy

Trent Murphy started eight games in 2014 after Orakpo was again lost for the year due to injury. Murphy played better as a starter than he did early in the season as a reserve. He even graded out as one of the top run defenders on the defense over the second half of the schedule.

Murphy had only 2.5 sacks last year. He added 8 quarterback hurries as well. After an off-season workout program, Murphy appears to be much bigger, stronger and faster than he was during his rookie season in 2014.

Galette…may be unavailable for two to four games

Murphy has played very well in the first two preseason games. He started things out with a 1.17 rating versus the Browns helping the Redskins to stifle Cleveland’s run game. Facing The Lions the next week he put up a 1.00 rating as the Redskins run defense continued to excel.

I expect Murphy to begin the 2015 season as the starter. His hard work and improvement will be rewarded but Murphy must continue to improve throughout the year if he is to remain the starter. He also needs to show that he has a burst to the quarterback that will raise his sack total.

With Galette recovering from a pec injury and facing a possible suspension due to domestic violence charges that were dropped and a video of him hitting a woman with a belt, he may be unavailable for two to four games. The NFL doesn’t have a clear policy but they have given harsh penalties previously for domestic violence. This opens the door for not only Murphy, but other rookies and second year players to excel while Galette is out.

Next: The Reserves