Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo wasn’t part of the team’s run to the NFC East crown last season after tearing his pectoral muscle in the second game of the season.
With so much time to rehab the injury before the 2013 season, Orakpo is now fully healthy — “I’m 100, 200, 300 [percent]—whatever that number may be” — and ready to resume his role as a pass rusher for the Redskins defense. With his contract in its final year, Orakpo plans to make up for lost time in a major way.
“I’m going to rip it up this year. I have high expectations,” Orakpo said, via the Redskins website. “I want to win, be in contention for Defensive Player of the Year, get Comeback Player of the Year.”
It’s not the first time Orakpo has made it known that winning hardware is on his mind and he believes the time on the sideline last year has made him a smarter player, although that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a completely different player. Orakpo recorded 28.5 sacks over his first three seasons, but has heard criticism from those who thinks he doesn’t use a wide enough variety of moves to escape the grasp of blockers. Orakpo said he knows what works for him and that he’s going to continue doing it.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m going to continue being a powerful, edge pass rusher. I do have counter moves, inside stuff like that, but you have to know what type of player you are. You don’t want to go out there and look stupid trying to imitate someone else,” Orakpo said. “I could care less what people say. You just have to go out and do your thing. Believe in what your coaches are critiquing you on your game, and try to establish that on Sundays.”
The criticism is a fair one, although Orakpo has been effective during his career and there’s no doubt that the Orakpo of old would have been a big boost to the Redskins defense last season. His healthy return in 2013 should have that effect, even if he falls short of the awards he’s targeting.