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Despite disappointing season, Eagles’ Ryan Kerrigan looking forward to facing his old team

The veteran defensive end, who came to the Eagles after 10 years in Washington, is not letting an off year effect his work ethic.

Eagles defensive end Ryan Kerrigan warms up during practice at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia on Friday, June 4, 2021.
Eagles defensive end Ryan Kerrigan warms up during practice at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia on Friday, June 4, 2021.Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

Ryan Kerrigan is fully aware of the stats and what’s being said.

His production in his first season with the Eagles has been pedestrian at best. The four-time Pro Bowler has mustered just three tackles with zero sacks and zero faced fumbles over 13 games.

Kerrigan arrived in Philadelphia this past offseason after spending a decade in Washington, where he terrorized backfields and departed as the franchise’s all-time sack leader with 95.5 of them. He signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Eagles in free agency; from a complete stat perspective, he’s been paid more than $833,333 for each of his three tackles.

Exactly how is Kerrigan dealing with the worst year of his career? Let the 11-year veteran humanize the situation.

“It’s been tough at times,” Kerrigan said. “It’s been challenging at times because the production hasn’t been what I want it to be nor what I’m accustomed to doing. But I’m proud of myself because I haven’t thrown in the towel because it’s not working out. I’ve kept working. I’ve stuck to working hard and doing what I can to put myself in position to make plays. I just have to make them.

“This is something I’m going to impart on my two daughters later in life. Just because what you haven’t been getting what you want, it doesn’t mean you give up and say ‘to the hell with this.’ You’ve got to keep working because you never know when the right opportunity will be there. ... My wife has reminded me, at times, this will be a good thing to impart on the girls later in life. I try to think of it from a [father] angle.”

Kerrigan got off a a slow start after he sustained a broken thumb during training camp. That injury has hindered his ability to make basic movements and have full range of motion with his hand all season. However, the broken thumb never forced him out of action and Kerrigan played in the regular-season opener.

Since then, though, his snaps have dropped drastically. Kerrigan played in nearly half of the defensive snaps in the opener, but he hasn’t managed more than 20 snaps since mid-October.

Asked about Kerrigan’s lack of production in October, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said: “On the stat sheet? Because in my opinion, he has been productive. How would I quantify that is he lines up, he gets aligned the correct way, he plays with his eyes the right way, he’s asked to do the techniques that we’re asking him to do and he’s playing winning football within his role? What I mean by that is somebody that makes a tackle on a run -- Ryan helped that guy make that tackle by how he crushed the block.”

Gannon continued: “The stat sheet might not jump out at you ...but within the framework of what we’re asking him to do, he’s being productive. ... Is this guy playing winning football for us? And who is producing when the plays that are there for him to make, does he make them? I think he is doing that.”

“He’s brought leadership,” team captain Fletcher Cox said of Kerrigan. “He’s brought a lot of help with mentoring Josh Sweat and especially when Brandon Graham went down. Him and Derek Barnett talk a lot; he takes all of the defensive ends and spends time with them. You expect that out of Ryan.”

Kerrigan said he won’t need to check any of his emotions as he prepares to face his former team. Sunday’s game has been postponed to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Lincoln Financial Field due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Washington.

“The signficance for me is it’s a division game and both teams are fighting to keep our seasons going,” he said. “It’ll be cool to see old friends, but this is ultimately about the Eagles and Washington.”

At 33 years old, it’s difficult envisioning Kerrigan staying in Philadelphia beyond this year. It’s possible he might rejuvenate his career with one more stop within a system that better fits his strengths as a traditional pass rusher and one that also provides him more opportunities. But the current chapter’s script is nearly over.

“There’s still four games left,” Kerrigan said. “I’m hoping to be productive for this team down the stretch and be a difference maker.”