Washington Redskins‘ fans were pleased to see the return of right outside linebacker Brian Orakpo during the Redskins’ preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans. Orakpo suffered a torn right tricep that saw him miss all but two games in 2012. His return solidifies a Washington defense that struggled mightily last season.
Despite his inability to tackle Titans’ running back Chris Johnson in the open field, leading to a Tennessee touchdown, Orakpo made up for it later on. He sacked Titans’ quarterback Jake Locker, showing the form that made him a two-time Pro Bowler.
Orakpo’s return takes a lot of pressure off of left outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who led Washington with 8.5 sacks in 2012. Opposing offenses will pay plenty of attention to Orakpo, which should create more opportunities for Kerrigan to match or surpass his sack output from last season. If opponents decide to double-team Orakpo and Kerrigan, that’ll open things up for inside linebacker London Fletcher to make plays as well.
Orakpo has designs on becoming the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. That’s a lofty goal, considering that Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt won the award last season, and is considered the best pass rusher in the NFL. Still, Orakpo’s aspiration to win the NFL’s top individual award on defense is the type of confidence the Redskins need on defense. Washington will have six of the top 10 passing offenses from last season on their schedule in 2013. If the Redskins are to capitalize on last year’s 10-6 campaign, Orakpo will have to play a huge role. Redskins’ fans hope his presence will energize the defense in 2013.