Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo will likely be starting up his sixth NFL season in a very familiar place – his hometown of Houston.
Growing up a stone's throw from the site of the Houston Texans' NRG Stadium, the three-time Pro Bowler is looking forward to playing in front of family and friends on Sunday.
Photos from LB Brian Orakpo's past seasons playing with the Washington Redskins. On March 3, 2014 the club applied the franchise tag to Orakpo.
"My old neighborhood is like I said 15 minutes from [the stadium], so it is pretty fun to go back home," he said. "I haven't played in Houston my whole career, so it will be fun."
In fact, the last time Orakpo played in Houston was in 2005 when he was a freshman at the University of Texas. Although he's listed as questionable for Sunday's game with an ankle injury, Orakpo told reporters on Friday that he feels he'll be more than ready to go for the season opener.
"It has been almost 10 years, so it is going to be fun," he said. "I am going to have a lot of friends and family there rooting me on.
"I'm going to try to treat it as normal a game as possible. It's a unique situation being from there, but it's going to be fun."
Coming off a successful 2013 season in which he recorded a career-high 60 tackles with 10 sacks and his first career interception and touchdown, Orakpo said he knows that the Texans' offense can create problems if you aren't bringing forth your best effort.
"I'm expecting them to go back to where they was two years ago," Orakpo said of the Houston offense, which, in 2012, ranked in the top 10 in the league, but dipped to 31st in points scored last season. "I think they got a good, really solid line with Duane Brown, a Pro Bowl player.
"I always love going up against him, I know what he does brings to the table and they've got a rookie at left guard, so I mean they got some key pieces."
Also factoring into the equation is a returning running back Arian Foster, who missed the second half of the 2013 season after undergoing back surgery.
The former University of Tennessee star led the league in rushing in 2010 and has 52 touchdowns in 59 career games.
"He brings a way different challenge than what we are normally seeing in our division with [Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean] McCoy and company," Orakpo said Thursday. "He is a very, very patient runner. One thing we cannot take for granted as far as getting out of our gaps and trying to make a play -- we have to be totally sound.
"He is going to hit holes when he needs to and his vision is remarkable. I think Foster is healthy this year, he is back to his All-Pro form, and it is going to be a great test for us."
Orakpo, who checks in at 6-foot-4, 257 pounds and is known to be one of the more physical players at his position, said "it gets fun" wearing down opponents.
It also opens the door for the team's edge pass rushers to get a hand on the quarterback.
"The first quarter is kind of hard, because you've got to get a feel for what they are going to run, but as the game wears on you starting to know what kind of formations [they run], different plays they run and concepts, so you can really get after it from that standpoint," he said. "But as the game wears on, you get to do try out different stuff this and that, we get to maybe switch me and Ryan [Kerrigan], switch sides and have a lot of flexibility.
"Hopefully we can bring all that out this first game."
Throughout the preseason, the first-team defense look greatly improved from a season ago. Forcing multiple three-and-outs along with several sacks, Orakpo hopes the uptick in performance continues.
"I think we looked really good, and we just have to continue to be consistent week in and week out," he said. "That's the No. 1 thing. ... We've got a lot of playmakers and guys that will go out there and handle their business."