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Orakpo Ready To Play 'Possessed' In 2013


Most players coming off of serious injuries use the media to temper expectations in case they should fail to measure up after time away.

But most players don't approach the game like Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who isn't afraid to make his intentions known for 2013.

Comeback Player of the Year? Check.

Defensive Player of the Year? Check.

First ever Deacon Jones Award for the player with the most sacks? To be determined.

"You have to set high goals for yourself," he told the hosts of 'NFL AM' on Thursday. "If you don't strive to be the best, there is no point to be playing this game.

"That's one thing I do each and every year. Play with a chip on my shoulder, and wreak havoc on Sundays."

Orakpo hasn't suited up since Week 2 last season but has been a healthy and confident addition to the team during offseason workouts.

Better yet, his coaches have taken notice of his improved agility and speed from his time away.

"I think the guy looks awesome, just watching him," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett told the media. "He's probably moving as well as he's ever moved. He looks in great shape, strength all of that, that's all there."

Head coach Mike Shanahan said he took Orakpo aside during an offseason practice and asked him how much he missed the game.

Rather than just respond in words, Orakpo has shown his coach in action.

"[Orakpo], just the way he practices is like he's possessed. That's what you like to see," Shanahan said. "You can tell he misses the game, being out as long as he was last season. You can tell that he is looking forward to having a great year.

"He's done everything you ask a guy to do in the weight room, rehab. He's really looking forward to that opportunity."

And Orakpo should be smarter for his time on the sidelines. Rather than being burdened with his own assignments last season, Orakpo said he dug in and learned what offenses were doing against him.

Moving forward, he has a greater understanding of what teams and trying to do and what he can do to stop them.

"Instead of just running plays, instead of just getting after the quarterback, I can sit down and know what is going to happen beforehand," he explained. "That is something I picked up a lot. In the first day of OTAs, I'm out there flying around, calling stuff out.

"It's starting to come natural for me now, instead of being athletic and going out there and rushing the passer."

Playing behind a top-five offense will also afford the defense the opportunity to be more aggressive and take more chances in 2013, something that yielded good results after the bye week last season.

"When we have an offense that is scoring, putting up makes our jobs a lot easier," Orakpo told 'NFL AM.' "We are able to get after it. I can forget about the run and just get after [the quarterback], being up 21 points or whatever it may be.

"That was the most disappointing thing for myself missing last year because I haven't had an offense like we had last year. That's why I'm excited for this year. It's going to be great to watch.

Ultimately, Orakpo is prepared to do whatever he can to keep the winning ways going in 2013, regardless of personal accolades.

"Whatever helps the team win more ball games," he responded to the suggestion of winning the Deacon Jones Award. "I think having more sacks, and forcing fumbles is the way to go.

"That has always been the goal, getting a lot of sacks. So we will see what happens."




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