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With Four-Sack Game, Orakpo Makes His Mark


From the moment Brian Orakpo arrived at Redskins Park, he has displayed maturity beyond his years.

That maturity continues to show up on the football field.

He had a career day in the Redskins' 34-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, posting four sacks.

For the Redskins, it's a good thing that his career is only beginning.

"His aggressiveness and his burst," head coach Jim Zorn marveled a day after the game. "It didn't seem like he got tired. He was gutting it out."

Said Orakpo: "I was just being relentless out there. You have to give credit to the offense, too. The offense put a lot of points on the board and that allowed us to really let it loose [as pass rushers]."

It was the first time a Redskins defender had four sacks since December 2005 when Phillip Daniels had four against the Dallas Cowboys. Dexter Manley, Ken Harvey and Diron Talbert also accomplished the feat.

The last NFL rookie to post four sacks in a game? Go back to December 1987, when Buffalo's Cornelius Bennett did it.

Orakpo has 11 sacks on the season. He becomes the first rookie to post double-digit sacks since Chicago's Mark Anderson and Cleveland's Kamerion Wimbley did it in 2006.

Other pass rushers who posted double-digit sacks as rookies? Tennessee's Jevon Kearse, Indianapolis's Dwight Freeney, Carolina's Julius Peppers, Baltimore's Terrell Suggs, Minnesota's Kevin Williams and San Diego's Shawne Merriman.

Overall, the Redskins posted eight sacks of Raiders quarterbacks on Sunday. Andre Carter had two sacks, Lorenzo Alexander had one and Reed Doughty recorded a sack on a safety blitz in the first quarter.

The last time the Redskins' defense posted eight sacks in a game was on September 1990 against Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys.

Carter and Orakpo become the first Redskins teammates to post double-digit sacks in the same season since 2000, when Bruce Smith and Marco Coleman accomplished the feat. Smith had 10 and Coleman had 12 that year.

As a pass-rushing duo, Carter and Orakpo lead the NFL with a combined 22 sacks. They took over NFL lead from Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who have combined for 21 sacks.

In Orakpo, it's clear the Redskins have a special player on their hands.

He has been lining up more at defensive end in recent weeks, although he still sees action at linebacker.

"I was in the zone, basically," Orakpo said after the Raiders game. "I love the game plan. Get me on the edge more at defensive end, my natural position, and then I can just wreak some havoc out there."

It helped when the Raiders lost starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski left the game at halftime with a knee injury. He was replaced by backup JaMarcus Russell, who really struggled.

Russell was sacked six times in the second half, three times by Orakpo.

"We knew he was a pocket quarterback and that we could get after him," Orakpo said.

His approach to rushing quarterbacks is to adapt to the technique of the blocker.

"I'm never guy who anticipates my move before the snap," he said. "I'm always a guy who plays off of reaction. Whatever the tackle gives me, that's when I make my move."

With three games to play, Orakpo is 3.5 sacks shy of Kearse's rookie record of 14.5 sacks, set in 1999.

Orakpo is also certain to be a contender for the NFL Rookie of the Year honors. His top competition is likely Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, who has 112 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three interceptions.

"That's one thing about me, I don't aim for anything, I just go out there and play," Orakpo said. "If it happens, it will be a huge honor, but that's not my number one goal. If it happens, it's a great accomplishment."

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