The NFL has always been a violent game. Injuries are as common to the game as the consumption of beer by many fans. That being said, teams better have some quality depth that can fill in for injured starters, or they are in trouble.
The Washington Redskins are no strangers to the injury bug in 2012. They have lost three defensive starters to injury: linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive end Adam Carriker, and safety Brandon Meriweather. Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and safety Reed Doughty have been called upon to replace Carriker and Meriweather, respectively. Jenkins and Doughty have produced results so uneventful that they’re not even worth mentioning here.
Linebacker Rob Jackson (#50, pictured above) was called upon to start Week Three against the Cincinnati Bengals after Orakpo suffered a season ending triceps injury Week Two against the St. Louis Rams. Jackson, who initially plied his trade for Washington on the special teams’ unit, recorded three tackles and an interception return for a touchdown during the Redskins’ 38-31 loss to the Bengals.
Before his injury, Orakpo was considered one of the NFL’s rising stars as a pass rushing outside linebacker. Talented players like Orakpo are hard to come by; therefore, he will have every opportunity to reclaim his starting outside linebacker spot for Washington in 2013. The Redskins have a limited supply of draft picks for the next several years. Plus, at 26 years old, Orakpo is still in his prime as a player. Therefore, awaiting his return seems like the sensible thing to do.
While Jackson is not a long term solution at outside linebacker, he has been a solid, if not spectacular, replacement for Orakpo. He has recorded 26 tackles, two and a half quarterback sacks, and two interceptions in 2012. If he can continue to play within himself and make routine tackles of opposing ball carriers, then Orakpo’s position will be in good hands until he returns.