When a hamstring forced linebacker London Fletcher to leave the Redskins loss to Carolina, it means the lone defensive ironman during the first half of the season would be Ryan Kerrigan a rookie playing a new position with first-round expectations.
Through the Buffalo game, Kerrigan remains a perfect participant, having been on the field for all 447 defensive snaps. He has 33 tackles and two snaps.
Asked about Kerrigans durability, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wrapped his knuckles against a podium.
The good ones, they can play most of the time and play most of the season, he said. We told Ryan from the beginning, This isnt like college, where you tap your helmet to get a break. Theres no tapping the helmet here. You go the whole time and play two positions.
Kerrigan remains an outside linebacker on regular downs and becomes a pass rusher on third-and-obvious situations. Although the sack total isnt there, teams are paying enough attention to him that teammates are getting sacks. Hes also forced or drawn three penalties.
Haslett said Kerrigans endurance may be due in part to the lockout, perhaps the only positive emerging from the stoppage.
I dont think hes hit the wall and hes smart enough to understand that its a long season, Haslett said. Not having the off-season will help him from a mental standpoint he wont wear down. The rookies who come in and go through the OTAs and mini-camps, mentally they get worn down. He didnt have to do that.
San Francisco is 6-1 and should be 7-0 had it not squandered the Dallas game in Week 2. The 49ers have put themselves in position for their first winning season and first playoff appearance in nine years.
First-year coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff did not have the benefit of an off-season working with the players, but are still leading the NFC West.
It was very challenging, he said. Its almost to the point where now I dont remember how challenging it was. It seems like a long time ago now, doesnt it?
A key for the 49ers success has been winning on the road theyve defeated Cincinnati (plus 2.5 points), Philadelphia (plus 9) and Detroit (plus 4) as away underdogs.
Standing as a 3.5-point favorite over the Redskins, its only the second time since the start of the 2006 season San Francisco is giving points on an Eastern time zone game.
Atogwe Playing Hurt
Safety O.J. Atogwe returned against Buffalo after missing the Carolina game with an assortment of injuries. He didnt look particularly effective vs. the Bills and Haslett acknowledged health is an issue.
O.J. is still hurting, Haslett said. His toe, hes got a knee, a hamstring. Its a little of everything. He can play better. Everybodys kind of beat up at this time of the year, but hes probably has a little more.
The Redskins still have two weeks before they need to make a decision on safety Kareem Moore (move him to the 53-man roster or injured reserve). If Moore returns healthy, that might take some pressure off Atogwe.
Haslett didnt have an issue with Fletcher being vocally critical of LaRon Landry on the sideline after the Bills third-quarter touchdown.
Guys were frustrated, Haslett said. LaRon thought it was a running play and guessed on it. We should have had two guys on the deep route. London was frustrated and thats understandable.
Defensive end Stephen Bowen gave oldnew teammate Tashard Choice a scouting report about the Redskins once the running back was claimed off waivers. I told him everybody is cool, everybody gets along, Bowen said. I told him theres no favoritism here. If you can play, Coach Mike Shanahan is going to let you play.
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