As the Redskins look to repeat as NFC East champions in 2016, Ryan Kerrigan noticed a fire in his teammates as they returned to Redskins Park for Phase 1 of offseason workouts.
While the night of Dec. 26, 2015, was full of joy and celebration for the Washington Redskins after they sealed their second NFC East title in four seasons, the start of their run-up to a division championship started well before the regular season opener or even training camp.
Check out defense/special teams images from the Washington Redskins' second day of Phase 1 offseason workouts at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
Last April, the Redskins quietly started their offseason workouts at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., working each and every day to become stronger and sharper for the season.
They did the same on Monday, although Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan noticed a difference in the team's overall mentality.
"I think we're actually hungrier than you are when you come off of a losing season because you got a taste of success, but now we know that we have the ability and we have the team that can get back to the point we were at and take it even further than that," Kerrigan said on a conference call with local media.
"Hopefully we can have a good rest of the offseason and build toward the regular season."
Kerrigan, who signed a long-term deal on the eve of training camp last year, is one of the team's top contributors returning for the 2016 season.
But, like every year, the roster will be slightly different, as the Redskins no longer have leaders such as Dashon Goldson, Terrance Knighton and Darrel Young.
Others will step up in their absence. Naturally, as the starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins will be one of the more vocal leaders on the team now.
"He's a guy who does things the right way," Kerrigan said. "He leads by example but also he can speak really well, so I imagine he'll fill a lot of that void from an offensive perspective. I think a guy like DeAngelo Hall has always been a vocal leader with us, so I imagine he'll continue to expand his leadership role as well."
On the defensive side of the ball, Kerrigan believes the unit needs to be more consistent in 2016 if they want to help take Washington to the next level.
The Redskins finished 28th in total defense, giving up more than 380 yards per game.
"We had some games last year like the Atlanta game, for example, where we gave up a ton of rushing yards," Kerrigan said. "We also have got to rush the passer more consistently. We had a number of games where we didn't get enough hits or pressures on the quarterback. We've just got to be more consistent, have got to consistently win one-on-one matchups more upfront, make it easier on our guys in the back end."
The pass rush got an instant jolt when the Redskins re-signed linebacker Junior Galette.
Prior to missing last year with a torn Achilles, Galette totaled 22 sacks combined in his last two seasons with the New Orleans Saints.
"I've been seeing him all offseason because we've both been here training at Redskins Park and he looks good," Kerrigan said. "I mean, he looks as explosive as ever. He looks strong. He's kept his weight on, which is good because that's always a struggle when you have surgery and you can't train like you normally can. So he's looked good and, I mean, he's still got four months until the season and I imagine by the time the season rolls around he's going to look great."