Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker Done For Season After Injuries
(Originally posted 9/17/12 3:38 p.m.; Updated 9/17/12, 9:23 p.m.)
ASHBURN – When defensive coordinator Jim Haslett evaluated the Washington Redskins’ performance in the offseason, he noted a jump from 31st to 13th in total defense and expected the veteran group to continue improving after another year in the system.
If it does so, such a leap will continue without two important contributors. Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker each sustained injuries in the Redskins’ loss at St. Louis on Sunday that will end their seasons after just two games.
For Orakpo, it was another tear of his troublesome left pectoral, though it came in a different location than the one he sustained in the final game of last season. Carriker, meanwhile, tore the quadriceps tendon, which connects the quadriceps muscle to the knee, in his right leg.
Each player will undergo surgery later this week, though specifics hadn’t been arranged late Monday. Orakpo will miss at least four months and Carriker at least five, and each player will officially be placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
“I’m very frustrated, obviously disappointed,” Carriker said Monday by phone. “I kind of felt like I let the D-linemen and the defense down going out of the game early like that. It’s out of my control, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel that way. All I can do now is get the surgery as soon as possible and rehab and then come back as soon as possible.”
Carriker was trying to fight through a block by Rams right guard Harvey Dahl on the second play from scrimmage when his right leg gave out on him. Orakpo, likewise, was trying to fight through a block by Rams left tackle Rodger Saffold, who incidentally sprained the MCL in his right knee on the same play with 9:27 to play in the first quarter.
“Basically, I’m just rushing the passer and I go to push the O-lineman and I feel the pop and the pain,” Carriker said. “When a doctor says, ‘Put some ice on it – you’re done and we’ll get an MRI on it tomorrow,’ that’s never a good sign.”
Orakpo tried to play through the tear and twice returned to the field before leaving for good midway through the third quarter.
He was replaced by Rob Jackson, who head coach Mike Shanahan said will compete with Chris Wilson in practice this week for the starting role beginning Sunday against Cincinnati.
“I mean, it’s a big opportunity, not only for myself but for any backup,” said Jackson, who is in his fifth year with the Redskins. “[You’re] waiting for that day or that game when you actually start a game. We’ll see how the week goes and the decisions they make.”
Both Kedric Golson and Jarvis Jenkins replaced Carriker on the left side of the defensive line, with Jenkins playing passing downs, though it is likely Jenkins will proceed as the starter. He tore the ACL in the preseason a year ago and missed his first year, but believes the first two games have prepared him adequately.
“You’ve got to step up as a D-line and assume responsibility,” the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Jenkins said. “Just like I got hurt last year, it’s the same situation but on the other side of the fence now. I’ve got to play ball and just do what I’m capable of doing.”
Orakpo’s loss is particularly damaging to the Redskins, whose defensive front seven was supposed to be its strength and would take the pressure off rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. The 26-year-old linebacker averaged 9.5 sacks and 55 tackles over his first three seasons and formed a potent pass-rush tandem with Ryan Kerrigan beginning last season. Now, with Orakpo out, Kerrigan is likely to be held in check as he faces more double-teams from the opposing line.
Carriker, 28, had 34 tackles last season, but he finally broke through with a career-high 5.5 sacks in his fifth season. That performance led to him signing a four-year, $20 million contract to return to the Redskins in March.
“Adam’s been a big part of what we’ve been able to do around here, a tremendous player for us,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “We’ll miss him, but it’s going to be an opportunity for somebody else now. We’re a no-excuse football team. Hey, injuries happen in the National Football League, and the next man has to come up and play well in that position.”