Alex Brandon
July 29, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Now that he has a multiyear contract extension, Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan realizes he'll be expected to take on more of a leadership role. Just not a loud one.

''I don't necessarily think that means being a vocal leader, being a `rah-rah' guy, because that's not me and never has (been). Probably won't ever be me,'' Kerrigan said Wednesday, when the Redskins announced his new deal.

''I've always been a guy that works hard,'' he continued, ''but now with the contract and what that means, and me being an older guy in the room, I have to work even harder to do the right things to an even greater level and just do all the little things that are going to help not only make myself better, but make the team better.''

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Kerrigan ranked second in the NFC last season with a career-high 13 1/2 sacks for the Redskins, who went 4-12 and finished last in their division for the sixth time in seven years.

''He can get to another level, but we've got to help him. We need to play with a lead and make teams have to throw in the fourth quarter for him to get his numbers up, his `fantasy football numbers,''' coach Jay Gruden said. ''He can do it all. He's an accountable guy. He's never been late to a meeting.''

The Redskins locked up their top pass-rusher a day before the first practice of training camp. Players reported Wednesday and went through a conditioning test. Gruden said Kerrigan - who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in the offseason - and four other players coming back from injuries - left tackle Trent Williams, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, tight end Jordan Reed, and offensive lineman Morgan Moses - all ''got a clean bill of health.''

''I'm looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and knocking off the rust,'' said Kerrigan, a 2011 first-round draft pick who has started every game during his four NFL seasons.

He has 38 sacks, 15 forced fumbles and two interceptions - both returned for touchdowns.

''We love rewarding guys like that, that actually perform and play well for you and play hard,'' Gruden said. ''He's one of the guys we lean on, on and off the field. ... We'd love to have a locker room full of Ryan Kerrigans, for sure.''

It seemed clear that Washington planned all along to give Kerrigan a significant extension, especially once they allowed their other top sack threat, linebacker Brian Orakpo, to leave as a free agent.

Kerrigan is a one-time Pro Bowl selection who recorded 7 1/2 sacks as a rookie, then 8 1/2 each of the next two seasons, before having his best production last year.

Re-signing him was a priority for the Redskins, who now can move on to trying to reach agreement on a multiyear deal with Williams, another Pro Bowl player.

Gruden said the team is ''in talks right now'' with Williams' agent, adding the tackle is ''in great shape and great spirits and he's going to work hard, no matter what the contract situation is.''

Noted Gruden with a chuckle: ''I saw him out there running today and he looked like a gazelle.''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Online:

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