- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The retention of Brian Orakpo on a franchise deal — one year, $11.455 million — solved one problem during the offseason, but posed another.

Orakpo doesn’t believe, in his sixth season, he has to prove himself as an elite outside linebacker. But members of the coaching staff, many of whom are unfamiliar with his ability, believe he does. That could motivate Orakpo this season, but the constant headache that comes with that schism will echo louder than the contract talks did last year.

One bonus for Orakpo is that he finally will have a dedicated outside linebackers coach to work with as Brian Baker was hired by Jay Gruden to focus on the position and oversee the pass rush.


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That hiring should work wonders for Ryan Kerrigan, who is entering his fourth season but seemed to hit a plateau last year without adequate coaching. It will also help give second-round draft pick Trent Murphy a better shot of contributing in his first year as a situational rusher — something fifth-round pick Brandon Jenkins wasn’t afforded last year as a rookie.

The biggest loss, of course, will be that of London Fletcher, who announced his retirement in December after 17 seasons. His replacement, Keenan Robinson, was the standout of offseason workouts, showing an advanced knowledge of the defense and, at times, calling plays. How he fares in a game will be the bigger test; Robinson’s first two seasons ended because of a torn pectoral muscle, and he didn’t play a down last year after injuring himself on the first day of training camp.

Perry Riley returned to the Redskins on a three-year deal on the eve of free agency, but his production, while solid, was unspectacular last season. He should also benefit from having a dedicated inside linebackers coach, Kirk Olivadotti, but will be pushed by two players — Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan — who were starters elsewhere last season.