Brian Orakpo: Washington Redskins Linebacker Will Be Ready for Opening Day

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2012

NFL.com's Dan Hanzus, citing a report from the Washington Post, has revealed that Brian Orakpo's MRI revealed no serious issues following the injury he sustained against the Chicago Bears.

Both reports indicate Orakpo will be available for the Washington Redskins' Week 1 opener against the New Orleans Saints.

That's great news for a Washington defense that will really need to rely on its star OLB to create a consistent pass rush on opposing offenses this season. Orakpo is already returning from offseason surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle.

Consistent injuries to his arms and upper body could reduce the effectiveness of a player who relies on leverage and power for most of his pass rush. As the weak-side outside backer in the Redskins' 3-4 front, Orakpo is the main source of the scheme's ability to create pressure.

The Redskins' pass rush won't be able to go missing in action against the Saints offense and Drew Brees. A healthy Orakpo will make a difference, but the Redskins are actually better equipped to cope with the absence of an outside linebacker this season.

Converted defensive end Rob Jackson remains a capable pass-rusher in a situational role, and bringing back rush end Chris Wilson was a smart move. Fourth-round draft choice Keenan Robinson also offers the speed and versatility to operate on the outside.

This quality in reserve didn't show itself against the Bears, but the Redskins can still be confident about being able to fill any gaps in their linebacker rotation. Still, Orakpo remains the key and the one player capable of emerging as a marquee playmaker for the defense.

So the Redskins would be wise to use their additional numbers to create a more continuous rotation and help keep stars like Orakpo fresh.

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