- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2012

Brian Orakpo feared the worst. He knew how it felt in Philadelphia in January when he tore his left pectoral muscle.

So Saturday night at Soldier Field, the Washington Redskins linebacker was worried.

“It was very similar type of feeling as when I went down. So that’s what scared me the most part,” Orakpo said. “I thought, I worked this hard trying to get back and I felt the pop and I thought it was done, to be honest with you.”

But it wasn’t done, and X-rays and an MRI showed no tear in that pectoral muscle. Orakpo won’t play again this preseason, coach Mike Shanahan said, but the news could have been much worse.

“Very relieved. He’s one of the premier pass-rushers in the league, and he’s going to play a vital part of our success this year,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “I’m definitely happy that it’s nothing serious with him.”

Orakpo needed surgery in the offseason, and Shanahan said the problem Saturday night was a result of scar tissue in that area. Dr. James Andrews, who performed the operation, was on the sideline in Chicago and was able to check it out, the linebacker said.

Orakpo practiced Monday and did not sound overly concerned moving forward.

“The soreness went down, but I feel better. I feel a lot better,” he said. “I’m very optimistic about it.”

Safety Brandon Meriweather, who injured his left knee Saturday, also received good news from his MRI. He said after practice he knew “nothing yet” about his future, but Shanahan filled in the blanks.

“After taking a look at the MRI, it’s a little bit swollen right now, but no surgery,” the coach said. “Just a little bit sore, so we’ll have to take it day by day.”

Running question mark

Tim Hightower, who, when healthy, is considered the favorite to be the Redskins’ No. 1 running back, practiced Monday as he tries to get back to 100 percent after a torn ACL last season. But there’s still no set plan for him or injured running back Roy Helu Jr.

Hightower was a little sore Monday, according to Shanahan.

“Hopefully, he can keep getting better this week, and if he does feel good enough to play [Saturday vs. the Indianapolis Colts], we’ll play him,” Shanahan said. “If not, we’ll try to play him [vs.] Tampa.”

Typically starters don’t take part in the fourth preseason game, but it could be the kind of tuneup Hightower needs. And it could be a chance for Helu to get back into action.

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