- 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.

Helu sat out Monday’s practice with two sore Achilles tendons. Shanahan wasn’t sure how Helu hurt his right Achilles tendon or whether he’d be able to play against Indianapolis.

“It’s kind of hard to tell right now; we’ve got a number of days left. Right now, both Achilles are a little sore. So that’s not good news,” Shanahan said. “He’s had a little recovery time, so I’m hoping it’s not as bad as it was last week.”

With Hightower and Helu on the shelf, rookie Alfred Morris has been given an opportunity to showcase himself. At Chicago, the sixth-round pick had 10 carries for 34 yards.

“I thought he did a good job. When he did have a couple holes in there, he got the extra yardage,” said Shanahan, who pointed out there’s a learning curve for all rookies. “You put them in situations, and sometimes it gets a little fast. But I was pleased with his effort and the way he ran the football.”

Extra points

Fletcher practiced fully after missing the Bears game because he wasn’t feeling well. The veteran reported feeling “great.” Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger took part in drill work Monday as he works his way back from arthroscopic knee surgery.

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