Brian Orakpo was growing into a leader on the Washington Redskins' defense, but now the team will have to go through the final 14 games without him.
Orakpo is gone for the season after tearing his left pectoral muscle in the 31-28 loss against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. The tear is in a different spot than one sustained in Week 17 last season. Orakpo's recovery time is about four months.
"It's definitely a greater sense of urgency now," outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "We know with our best pass-rusher down. ... I definitely have to step it up personally."
This is a significant loss for the Redskins, who also won't have defensive end Adam Carriker for the rest of the season with a torn quad tendon at the base of his right knee.
"Adam's been a big part of what we've been able to do around here, a tremendous player for us. He's going to be done, I guess, for the rest of the year," middle linebacker London Fletcher said. "We'll miss him, but it's an opportunity for somebody else now. We're a no-excuse football team. Hey, injuries happen in the National Football League, so the next man has to come up and play well in that position."
It's now up to Chris Wilson and Rob Jackson to battle it out for Orakpo's starting spot.
"I think we'll have both Rob and Chris working at the outside linebacker position to see who fairs the best," coach Mike Shanahan said. "They both have a lot of ability. They both have natural pass-rush ability; they can both stop the run. So it'll be interesting to see who wins the job."
Either way, Kerrigan pointed out Orakpo's shoes are hard to fill.
"He's a guy that can do it all. He can cover, he can rush, he can play the run, he's very physical, very smart, a key player," Shanahan said. "He's all the things you look [for] in a Pro Bowl player. Obviously we'll miss him."
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