The Redskins’ plan this season for outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan included flip-flopping their positions on the field during games to exploit certain matchups and try to confuse opposing quarterbacks. That’s now on hold, though, at least temporarily, with Orakpo out for the season to recover from a torn pectoral muscle.
Kerrigan lines up on the left in the Redskins’ base defense, but his Week 1 sack against New Orleans came from the right side, where Orakpo normally lines up.
And defensive coordinator Jim Haslett got more creative than just switching the outside linebackers’ sides during the first two games. Against New Orleans, Kerrigan and Orakpo lined up on the left on one play. Inside linebacker Perry Riley has lined up outside on several plays in each of the first two games.
Losing Orakpo limits that flexibility. Coaches believe Orakpo is advanced enough at outside linebacker and sufficiently refined in his rushing and coverage techniques that they could use him all over. Backups Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson have yet to prove that.
Haslett was asked Thursday whether he can still move Kerrigan around now that Orakpo is out.
“It depends on the other guys on the other side more than Ryan,” he said. “We’re just going to have to wait and see how that plays out as we go.”
Kerrigan, meanwhile, senses how Orakpo’s absence could hinder him and the entire defense.
“Everyone has to raise their game,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to replace what Rak can bring to the field, but guys just got to step up. I’ve got to raise my game. I haven’t played up to my standards the first couple of weeks.”