Right outside linebacker Brian Orakpo last summer spoke of diversifying his repertoire of pass-rushing moves. His reliance on speed and bull rushes made him a Pro Bowler in each of his first two seasons, but he believed he’d be even more effective – and achieve elite status – by adding to the arsenal.
That never really materialized, though, and Orakpo finished 2011 with a single-digit sack total (9.0) for the second straight season. So he’s emphasizing diversification again this summer, and he’s already seeing results.
During team drills in Friday afternoon’s practice, Orakpo used an inside swim move to beat left tackle Trent Williams, who set hard to the outside. Williams was beaten and had to hold Orakpo around the waist to prevent him from getting to the quarterback.
It was evidence of what might be if Orakpo can hone some new moves.
“I’m trying to change it up this year,” Orakpo said after practice. “I’ve been working on a lot of different things. I know I got it in my arsenal, but I can’t be afraid to use different things. That’s one thing I wanted to try. Even if I do get blocked, I’m still trying to learn different things, and that’s something I’m trying to incorporate throughout the training camp.”
Orakpo, Washington’s first-round pick in 2009, doesn’t make up his mind before the snap about which move he intends to use. He wants the choice to be reactionary, based on what the opposing tackle gives him.
He noticed Williams setting to protect against the outside speed rush, so he knew he’d try the swim if he saw Williams do it again.
“It’s just the set that he was giving me, and I was just making an inside move and just kind of doing different stuff instead of using a speed rush all the time,” Orakpo said.
Orakpo’s offseason training included more exercises that build hand quickness. He wants that to be a force in addition to his explosive bull rushes and speed around the edge.
“I’m physical,” he said. “I like to get into tackles and be aggressive. But I’ve got to switch it up. I’ve got to do different stuff, and I can’t be afraid to use swim or the inside moves. I’ve just got to do it, let it come natural, and then I’ll be good to go.”