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a redskins life: keeping up with ryan kerrigan

(photo by Brian Murphy)

[Editor’s note: This season, the Washington Redskins have asked me to occasionally write feature stories for the team’s official website, This article is my latest contribution, so please check it out.]

Since the day he was drafted by the Washington Redskins, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has made a name for himself as one of the team’s most productive players.

On or off the field, he’s never going to be considered the flashiest guy on the team. But his team-high 13 sacks since 2011 and his ability to never miss a down show he’s a highly-effective playmaker who the franchise can build around.

But don’t let his squeaky-clean image fool you because there’s more to Kerrigan than he lets on. Like, for example, the fact that his birth name is actually Patrick Ryan Kerrigan. Here Redskins fans thought they knew a little bit about the guy and it turns out most of them don’t even know his real first name.

“That was actually my parents’ decision,” he said. “My dad’s middle name is Patrick and they wanted to name me after my dad, but they didn’t want to have too much confusion. They did the same thing with my brother because my dad’s name is Brendan and they named my brother Brendan Kyle Kerrigan. They wanted to name him after my dad without too much confusion, so they call him Kyle.”

Quirky family traditions aside, Kerrigan swears his childhood in Muncie, Indiana, was completely normal. Sure, it’s not the biggest city out there, but there was still plenty of ways for him to have a good time.

“It was fun for me growing up there because I knew everybody,” Kerrigan said. “I wouldn’t really call it a tourist destination, but it was a fun place for me and I still have lots of friends and family back there.

“I was just like every kid – I wanted to play outside,” he continued. “Growing up, I liked playing any sport and I lived next door to a swimming pool. My friend also had a lake house that I spent a lot of weekends at during the summer. I really liked swimming.”

Kerrigan’s father, Brendan, played football at Ball State and his mother, Anita, was a solid athlete as well, which helps explain why Ryan has always been so athletically gifted and enjoys playing sports so much. In high school, he excelled at football, baseball, basketball and swimming.

“It was great having parents with athletic backgrounds because they got me into it and they helped me appreciate sports more,” he said.

While he’s regularly lauded for his standout play on the gridiron, there was once a time when Kerrigan was known as a basketball player as well. During his high school days, he even played against future NBA players like Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. But was he actually any good?

“I liken my game to that of Ben Wallace,” Kerrigan said. “I can rebound, do the dirty work and block shots. I can even add in the occasional dunk, but I don’t really have much of a shot. I was only out there to do the dirty work.”

At least he knew his place on the basketball court and was honest about what he brought to the table. Although he was much more of a role player on the hardwood court than he is on a football field, Kerrigan’s mentality remained the same.

“I just tried to come in, do my job and help my team win however I could,” he said.

That practical mindset has served him well over the years — including when it was time to decide where to go to college.

“Purdue was the best opportunity for me, both academically and athletically,” he said. “They had a bunch of defensive ends who were upperclassmen when I was being recruited and that was a big selling point for me because I knew I’d be able to play early and often there. And it worked out really well for me there. You know, I didn’t win as many games as I would have liked to, but I still really enjoyed my time there.”

Even though he’s been playing football since he was in the first grade, it wasn’t until his second year at Purdue that Kerrigan began to believe playing football for a living was a distinct possibility.

“I started to think maybe I could have a shot at the NFL,” he said. “By that point, I had played a couple seasons and had a pretty good year my sophomore season. I started to see a lot of my college teammates go pro, so I thought, ‘If they can do it, then why can’t I?’ That’s when I really began to focus in on taking this thing as far as I could.”

Kerrigan was named a unanimous All-American and his 33.5 sacks rank second in the school’s history. He was voted the 2010 Big Ten Conference Defensive Player and Lineman of the Year and lead the nation with 26 tackles for loss. And yet, when it was time for the NFL Draft, he still couldn’t help but feel nervous about the entire ordeal.

Click here for the full article.


logan paulsen blazes his own trail to NFL starter

(photo by Brian Murphy)

[Editor’s note: This season, the Washington Redskins have asked my brother, Joel Murphy, and I to occasionally write feature stories for the team’s official website, This article, which was written by Joel, is our latest contribution, so please check it out.]

When Redskins tight end Fred Davis injured his Achilles tendon during the first quarter of Washington’s game against the New York Giants in Week Seven, it was a situation backup tight end Logan Paulsen was unfortunately all too familiar with.

Paulsen, who became the team’s starter after Davis was sidelined, knows exactly what it’s like to face a devastating injury that prematurely ends a season.

For Paulsen, it was the first game of his senior season at UCLA, when he broke his foot during the season opener against Tennessee. That experience, showed Paulsen just how tough a season-ending injury is both physically and emotionally.

“It’s very difficult,” Paulsen said. “The fact that your team is still going on without you when you were such a big part of it for such a long time – I was at UCLA four years, Fred’s been here for three years. It just seems like there’s a seamless transition without you there.

“I think that’s the hardest thing psychologically is you kind of lose yourself a little bit. You don’t really have a direction for a little bit of time.”

During his rehabilitation, Paulsen focused on recovering from the injury while also being mentally ready if and when his team needed him again. That same mindset and preparedness also helped the 25-year-old this season when it came time to step in for the injured Davis.

“Obviously, it’s extremely difficult when one of your friends or teammates gets hurt,” said Paulsen. “I’ve had some experience with that and I know how difficult it can be. For him, I feel really bad, but at the same time, I’m on the Redskins for this moment, for this situation. However dark it is, this is my opportunity and this is why I have a job. So I need to make sure I’m prepared to do my job to the best of my ability and be a pro. I think I’ve done that.”

Paulsen’s path to becoming the starting tight end for the Redskins has been an unlikely one. Growing up in Northridge, Calif., Paulsen was always interested in sports, but it was actually soccer, not football, that he devoted most of his time to as an adolescent.

Paulsen admits he didn’t really follow professional football until he got to middle school and began playing some flag football. Then, when he got to high school, football became a much larger part of his life. And eventually, he had to make a choice between the two sports, since he didn’t have time to play high school football and still be a part of his club soccer team.

“Inevitably, one of those things had to give. I guess, fortunately, it was the soccer,” said Paulsen.

Even as football became a larger part of his life, he still didn’t realize it would become his life – until recruiters showed interest in him.

“Honestly, I didn’t think anything was going to become of the football thing. Then, lo and behold, my junior year rolled around and I had a couple of scholarship offers. It just kind of all happened really seamlessly,” Paulsen admitted.

Click here for the full article.


barry cofield brings electricity to redskins’ defense

(photo by Brian Murphy)

[Editor’s note: This season, the Washington Redskins have asked my brother, Joel Murphy, and I to occasionally write feature stories for the team’s official website, This article, which was written by Joel, is our latest contribution, so please check it out.]

In his second NFL season, defensive lineman Barry Cofield experienced the moment every player dreams of – he won a Super Bowl. His team, against the odds, was able to fight their way through the playoffs and win on the biggest stage of all. It was an amazing experience for him.

Unfortunately for Washington Redskins fans, Cofield earned his Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants.

Once he was acquired by head coach Mike Shanahan last year though, Cofield immediately began dreaming of what it would be like to win it all for a championship-hungry city like Washington.

“I can only imagine with how starved the fans are around here, the type of reception we’d get if we were able to pull it off here,” Cofield said. “It would be magical.”

Growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio as a fan of the Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers and Indians, Cofield understands what it’s like to agonize over a franchise’s losses and to desperately want your team to win. In fact, he relishes those fan expectations.

“You want that expectation; that getting by isn’t good enough,” said Cofield. “You want to be a championship contender and that’s what the fans want and expect. That’s what they cheer for and that’s what you want to give them.”

Cofield has always been athletically gifted, if perhaps a little too gifted for his age. Being bigger than most other kids, he couldn’t begin his football career until sixth grade because he exceeded the maximum weight limit imposed on kids in the local rec football league.

By high school, he lettered in four sports in high school – football, baseball, basketball and track and field.

Cofield bounced around various positions in his youth. He played everything from tight end to linebacker to running back and fullback. It wasn’t until his senior year in high school that his coach moved him from outside linebacker to the defensive line.

He had a number of prestigious football programs recruiting him his senior year, but for Cofield it was about more than the experience on the gridiron.

“Grades were always a big deal in my family too, which is how I ended up picking Northwestern,” Cofield said.

Northwestern head coach Randy Walker was also from Ohio, which helped in the recruiting process. It was that Ohio connection and what the school could offer academically that ultimately sold Cofield on the school.

“It was the combination of Big 10 football with an Ivy League-type degree. I just felt like that was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” said Cofield.

At Northwestern, Cofield pursued a communications degree with a sociology concentration. He wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do for a living, but knew he didn’t want to work in a cubicle. He was particularly interested in working with children.

It wasn’t until his junior year of college that he actually believed he had a shot of making it to the NFL.

“Luis Castillo was a year older than me, and he was my roommate on road trips,” Cofield explained. “Just hearing him go through it and end up getting drafted the year before my senior year; it wasn’t until then I thought, ‘I play next to this guy. He’s good enough to go in the first round.’

“So I felt like I’m good enough to at least play.”

Cofield remembers his NFL pre-draft experience as “nerve wracking.” The NFL Scouting Combine was particularly frustrating, as he watched players’ stock rise and fall on a daily basis.

“One day they like you, one day they hate you,” said Cofield.

The defensive lineman was realistic about his prospects in the draft. Cofield thought he might go as high as the third round, but believed it was just as likely that he wouldn’t get drafted at all.

He didn’t plan a big, flashy party to celebrate. Instead, he watched the draft quietly at home with his family—at least part of the draft.

When he was finally selected in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Cofield wasn’t actually following the proceedings on television.

“I was watching the movie Saving Silverman at the time they called my name,” he said.

Forgoing a flashy draft day celebration for a simple gathering at home befits Cofield’s blue-collar work ethic. A down-to-earth guy who embraces hard work, his determination has gotten him pretty far in his football career.

“Playing football is something I feel I always have to work for, always have to prove myself,” he said. “I definitely consider it a blessing.

“It wasn’t my birthright. It’s something I had to work for every single day.”

His talent and work ethic attracted the attention of the Redskins’ front office last offseason, who targeted Cofield as a 3-4 nose tackle, despite having never played there in the pros.

Click here for the full article.


perry riley: like father, like son

(photos by Brian Murphy)

[Editor’s note: This season, the Washington Redskins have asked me to occasionally write feature stories for the team’s official website, This article is my latest contribution, so please check it out.]

Washington Redskins middle linebacker Perry Riley grew up just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, in what he calls a “regular, close-knit family.”

Everyone got along, everyone enjoyed spending time together and, most importantly, everyone loved playing sports.

It should come as no surprise Riley started playing football as soon as he was old enough, and from day one, he admits he was hooked.

“If I wasn’t at football practice, I was playing football in the neighborhood with my friends,” he said. “That was all I wanted to do.”

That’s probably because his father, Perry Riley Sr., was an experienced football player as well.

“He was a huge football fan and he played college ball in Virginia,” Riley said. “I can remember watching football with him and learning the game in my living room. Once I started playing, I was actually pretty good at it. People couldn’t really tackle me and I was pretty good at tackling other people, so I stuck with it.”

Naturally, when Riley was ready to begin his football career, his father was once again right there with him.

“My dad has been my football coach since I was five years old,” he said. “He coached me all the way to high school, and he wanted to come out and help the coaches at my high school, but they told him he couldn’t.”

It’s noble for a parent to want to be so involved in his child’s life, but just how good was Riley’s father as a football player?

“I’ve never seen any tape of him playing,” Riley said. “He has newspaper articles and clippings and they all say he was pretty good, and all of my uncles talk about how good he was as a running back until he injured his knee during his senior year of college. They say pro teams were looking at him, but I’ve never seen tape of him playing.”

Two Perry Rileys — one on offense, one on defense. If Riley the running back had the ball with a chance to win the game and the only defender standing between him and victory was Riley the linebacker, who makes the play to decide the outcome of the game?

“If you ask him, he’d probably say I couldn’t tackle him,” he said with a laugh. “But if you ask me, I think I could get that tackle.”

When it was time to select a college to attend, Riley had plenty to choose from. He was considered one of the top linebacker prospects in the state of Georgia, which is why most of the SEC and ACC schools were knocking on his door.

Although his father pushed for him to go to nearby University of Georgia, Riley kept an open mind during the recruiting process. And at the end of the day, he felt a connection with the Louisiana State University coaching staff.

“Everything just clicked,” he said. “LSU was just a perfect fit. During my visits with the coaches and again when they came to my house, I felt a better vibe with them than anyone else. It kind of broke my dad’s heart at first, but it ended up working out great.”

Riley probably feels that way because his sophomore season ended with LSU winning the 2008 BCS National Championship Game over Ohio State, 38-24.

“It’s hard to explain what it’s like to win a national championship. It really is one of those things you have to experience to truly understand,” he said. “It’s a great feeling because you work so hard for it. Football doesn’t just start in August when the games begin. Every year you’re faced with a long, grueling offseason and you put a lot of time and hard work into one goal – winning a championship.

“When you finally accomplish it, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Riley continued. “It’s surreal. It’s so hard to explain, but your body just kind of goes numb. When the clock hits zero and you start to see the confetti and then you’re holding that crystal football, your body just goes numb. It was amazing.”

The following season, LSU blew out Georgia Tech in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl, 38-3. Riley was named the defensive MVP in that game and finished the season as a finalist for the Butkus Award, which is awarded to the top linebacker in the country.

By the time his collegiate career was over, Riley had become a consistent performer on one of the top defenses in the country. But he still wasn’t sure how things would play out with the NFL Draft.

Click here for the full article.


phillip daniels discusses his new role, hopes to coach

(photo by Brian Murphy)

[Editor’s note: This season, the Washington Redskins have asked my brother, Joel Murphy, and I to occasionally write feature stories for the team’s official website. This article, which was written by Joel, is our latest contribution, so please check it out.]

After spending the last seven of his 15 NFL seasons with the Washington Redskins, many D.C. sports fans were sad to see defensive lineman Phillip Daniels name left off of the active roster at the end of last season. Luckily, he didn’t go too far.

The team signed Daniels on as their director of player development, an important front office job that Daniels hopes will be the first step to becoming a NFL coach.

Daniels sees his new job largely as a mentor role. He also helps players with logistics, like finding housing, hiring a nanny or doing background checks on potential employees. Daniels also makes himself available to talk to guys about football, life or anything else that’s on their minds. And on game days, he helps enforce the league’s uniform code and acts as a liaison between the referees and players.

One of the key aspects of his job is helping rookies transition to life in the NFL. Over the summer, Daniels took the Redskins rookie class to the league’s symposium in Canton, Ohio. He ate breakfast and lunch with the nine rookies and spent most of the day with them, getting to know each of them and offering advice.

“My whole rookie class, I wouldn’t trade them for the world,” said Daniels.

As part of the Rookie Success Program, the rookies meet with Daniels every Monday morning. He offers them advice for life on and off the field and tries to help them avoid the stumbling blocks college athletes potentially face when transitioning to the pros.

Read more →


alfred morris: an improbable redskins hero

(photos by Brian Murphy)

[Editor’s note: This season, the Washington Redskins have asked me to occasionally write feature stories for the team’s official website, This article is my first contribution, so please check it out.]

No rookie has had a more improbable start to his professional career this season than Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris.

Seemingly overnight, the unheralded Florida Atlantic product went from fighting for a roster spot during training camp to becoming one of the most productive ball carriers in football.

But if there is anyone who has the right mindset to handle this newfound attention and publicity, it’s arguably Morris thanks to his upbringing.

The Pensacola, Florida, native was one of seven boys growing up, which he admits kept things very competitive.

“We all loved each other, but we would compete over everything. It was just part of our nature,” he said. “You couldn’t pay us to stay inside. We’d always be outside playing basketball, playing foursquare, playing football or running through the woods. We were always playing something and always competing. If you were an only child, man, I feel sorry for you. You missed out on a lot of good times with siblings.”

While he’s always been competitive, Morris believes there is a time and a place for that mindset.

“On the football field or when I’m playing a game, I’m a competitor,” he said. “But at the same time, I have a heart for other people. Like if I’m playing someone in Madden and I know I can beat this person, I’ll run a few bad plays or something to keep them in the game and make them feel better. I’ve just always been that way. I’d much rather make someone smile or lift their spirits up than just beat someone.”

Local fans were thrilled to learn that Morris grew up rooting for the burgundy and gold as well. But how does a 23-year-old from Florida end up supporting the Redskins?

Well, when Washington acquired running back Clinton Portis from Mike Shanahan’s Denver Broncos, not only did they land one of the most productive rushers in franchise history – they also gained a new fan.

“I took a liking to the Broncos and the talented running backs they had,” Morris said. “And I really liked Clinton Portis because he had done such a good job for them, so when they traded him for [cornerback] Champ Bailey, I just followed him to Washington.”

Which makes it all the more impressive that Morris would go on to one day play for Shanahan as a member of the Redskins.

When Morris was selected by Washington in the sixth round (173rd overall), he was the 12th running back taken in the 2012 NFL Draft. And yet, after five games, Morris ranks fourth in the league with 491 rushing yards and is tied for second in the NFL with four rushing touchdowns.

“Most of the players who are successful under Coach Shanahan are free agents and low-round picks,” said fullback Darrel Young. “It just goes to show that if you play hard, it doesn’t matter where you’re drafted.”

That sentiment has served Morris well during his brief time in Washington. Rather than worrying about who was drafted ahead of him or which teams passed him up, he’s simply chosen to focus on becoming the best running back he can be.

“If you have talent and work hard, they’ll find you,” Morris said. “Coach Shanahan found me in the middle of nowhere, so I’m definitely thankful that he did draft me and that I’m with the Washington Redskins. They were my dream team, so I was glad when they picked me.

“From where I came from, it definitely seemed impossible for me to get drafted and impossible for me to be a starter in the NFL,” he continued. “The entire draft process was nerve-wracking, but all of this is like a reward for all of the hard work.”

While Morris knows he took a roundabout way to get to the NFL, he is quick to say he wouldn’t change a thing about his journey.

Click here for the full article.


josh leribeus enjoying the rookie experience

(photos by Brian Murphy)

[Editor’s note: This season, the Washington Redskins have asked my brother, Joel Murphy, and I to occasionally write feature stories for the team’s official website, This article, which was written by Joel is our first contribution, so please check it out.]

For most NFL rookies, draft day is both an exciting and nerve-racking experience. But for Redskins rookie Josh LeRibeus, it was also a confusing one.

There he was on day two of this year’s draft, hoping to get picked up by a team and worried no one would select him until the third and final day. Then, during the third round, the phone rings, answering his prayers. His wait is over, and he’s going to be drafted earlier than he expected. The voice on the other end tells him: “Josh, just hang on the phone, we’re going to have coach talk to you.”

There was just one problem – he didn’t know which coach. In all of the excitement and confusion, he didn’t actually know what team was drafting him.

“I look right up as I answer the phone and the Buffalo Bills, they have their pick coming up,” said LeRibeus. “It just switched to Buffalo. I’m like, ‘Oh [shoot]!’”

Outside of being a big fan of Buffalo wings, LeRibeus didn’t know much about that part of the country. However, having grown up a Denver Broncos fan, he was thrilled to learn he’d been selected by Mike Shanahan. Prior to that phone call, LeRibeus didn’t even know Washington was interested in him, though he would later find out they had talked to his coach at Southern Methodist the day before the draft.

In his excitement over getting drafted, the rookie dropped some colorful language twice in a televised interview. And even though he dropped more language in this interview recounting his draft day experience, swearing is something he’s trying to stop doing since that infamous interview.

“I’ve caught myself for the most part,” said LeRibeus. “The ‘Sugar Honey Ice Tea’ word comes out now and then. I try to refrain from the f-bomb. I catch myself with the f-bomb almost every time now.”

You can forgive LeRibeus for getting a little overexcited. After all, even though he’s played football all his life and he weighed in at a robust 50 pounds on his second birthday, he didn’t think he’d end up in the NFL.

Growing up in Clute, Texas, the “mosquito capital of the world,” football was always a big part of LeRibeus’ life, but he didn’t think he’d make it to the highest level. Even when he was recruited by SMU and other noteworthy programs like Baylor, Boston College and Stanford showed interest, he still thought he’d graduate college with a degree in sociology and would go on to coach high school football somewhere in Texas.

“I knew I had some talent. To be honest with you, it never sunk in until my senior year of college at SMU,” LeRibeus said.

Click here for the full article.

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