The first two times this preseason that the opposing quarterback gift-wrapped an interception for Bryan Kehl, the ball slapped off the Redskins linebacker’s hands and fell to the turf.
Turns out the third time was the charm.
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ end zone just six yards away Wednesday night, Kehl made an athletic play to reach low and pick off a Brett Ratliff pass — this time hanging onto the ball — as he took the ball 43 yards to the Washington 49-yard line.
Kehl was all smiles when asked about the play after the game.
“Oh, words can’t describe that,” Kehl said.
Kehl nearly had the daylight to turn the play into a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown, but that wasn’t in the cards due to a couple of factors.
“If only [Kedric Golston] could’ve gotten me a block,” Kehl said loudly with a laugh as Golston stood nearby. “Nah, but my calf cramped up, too, on that play, or I might’ve taken it. But it felt so good.”
The interception capped off a solid game and preseason for Kehl, who made it much more difficult to be kept off the 53-man roster with his performance during the offseason, training camp and in four preseason games.
Against the Buccaneers on Wednesday, Kehl had a team-high-tying six tackles, one sack, three quarterback hits, a pass deflection and the aforementioned interception and long return.
Through the four preseason games, Kehl totaled 15 tackles, two sacks, three pass deflections and an interception.
He was also one of many non-starters that performed at a high level Wednesday night, which, according to Kehl, makes things difficult on the Redskins coaching staff as they have until 9 p.m. Friday to whittle down the roster from 75 players to 53.
“We’ve got some players here,” Kehl said. “I think the coaches are going to have a tough time [on Friday] — I don’t know what they’re going to do, but we’ve got a football team, and whoever doesn’t make it here, they’re going to make it elsewhere.”
Kehl said the fact that so many players are performing well this preseason means that the depth on the Redskins’ roster is for real.
“[Head coach Mike] Shanahan knows — he’s been around championship football teams — and he says we’ve got competition at every position,” Kehl said. “And what that means is if somebody goes down, then the next guy’s ready to step right up. And that’s what it takes in this league. It’s a long season, guys get banged up, and we’ve got some good football players. I really think the Redskins are going to do well.”
Here’s some video of Kehl talking to CSN Washington after the game:
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