On Monday morning Washington Redskins coach Mike Shannahan delivered some grimacing news for a Redskins team that was already coming off a painful loss to the St. Louis Rams. The Redskins defense was dealt a crippling blow when it was announced DE Adam Carriker (torn quad) and OLB Brian Orakpo (torn pectoral) will both miss the rest of the season after surgeries later this week. The pectoral muscle limited Orakpo at the end of last season, but the team had hopes the offseason and playing it safe with him early in the season would help prevent a complete tear. All of those hopes were dashed Sunday when Orakpo left the game after aggravating the pectoral injury.
Coming off a season in which the Redskins finished 13th in the NFL in sacks, 9 of those coming from Orakpo and 5.5 from Carriker. Coming off a last second loss to the Rams in which, a bone head lapse of judgement by WR Josh Morgan cost the team the game, the image of Orakpo covering his face in his hands stands out. There will be no way to replace the pass rushing presence of Orakpo, but Shannahan said Rob Jackson, who started in place of Orakpo Week 16 of last season, will replace Orakpo again this season. Carriker will be placed on the IR to make room for DE Doug Worthington, who will be activated off the practice squad. Meanwhile, 2nd year player Jarvis Jenkins will take Carrikers’ spot on defense, Jenkins is coming off ACL surgery last season. Neither Jenkins or Jackson will come close to the production that Orakpo and Carriker gave, but it should give the young guys a chance to prove themselves early on.
The Redskins head back home for their home opener on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, where most of the attention will be given to Robert Griffin III making his debut in D.C. This Redskins defense is hurting, but with RGIII stepping up as the leader of this team, and London Fletcher healthy on defense, they still have a chance to make the playoffs in a weak NFC East.