Richmond, Va. - Five years ago, before he was arguably the most popular player on the team, Ryan Kerrigan was an example. An example for what it's like to be a rookie in the NFL.
“We had a couple guys that had me carrying pads through like week four of the regular season," Kerrigan recalled. "I was like 'What the hell, man?”
Back then, the Redskins linebacker was just a baby by NFL standards. Now, as superstar, he's holding babies. For pictures, not for signatures.
“I have not put any ink to a baby yet this camp," Kerrigan said smiling. "Still have a week left though. So who knows what'll happen?”
So he might not sign babies, but Kerrigan does sign autographs. Plenty of them. Every day after practice, sometimes two practices, he stays late to leave his signature on balls, books and ball caps - so the fans leave with a smile.
"To sign an autograph or take a picture with them, it's a small portion of our day that means a lot to them," Kerrigan explained.
Missing a chance to sign for fans is about as rare as Ryan missing a game. Since week one of his rookie season, back when he was still toting around extra pads, Kerrigan has started every game. 82-for-82.
"He does exactly what’s asked of him in practice," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "He practices hard; in fact, we have to pull him back a little bit because he practices so hard and we want to keep him healthy for the 16-week grind. He’s a top-notch guy, on and off the field, character-wise. He’s what you’re looking for."
He's no longer a rookie, but Ryan Kerrigan is still an example - an example of how to do things the right way.