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20 questions in 20 days: 13 Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?

20 questions in 20 days: 13 Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?

By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
CSNwashington.comAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 13:Can Brian Orakpo post 15 sacks?The background:In 2009, linebacker Brian Orakpo had one of the best rookie seasons in Redskins history as he posted 11 sacks and was selected to the Pro Bowl. While he has played very well since then he has yet to become the dominant pass rusher that many believed he can become. Orakpo has 8.5 and 9 sacks in his last two seasons, respectable totals but not elite. He enters a pivotal season where he can either climb up into that top level of pass rushers or continue to be above average.Tandler:This is partially up to Orakpo and partially up to the guys on the other side of the ball. For his part, Orakpo needs to deal with being doubled and to develop some new moves in his repertoire. But what will help him the most is playing with a lead. The Redskins have ranked 25thand 26thin the NFL in scoring the last two years. If Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garon and company can put the ball in the end zone a few more time a game that will force the other team to pass more. When a defense knows whats coming and doesnt have to worry about defending the run, pass rushing gets a whole lot easier. Griffin and the offense should be able to hold up their end of the bargain and with more opportunities to focus on rushing the passer Orakpo will see his sack total climbEl-Bashir:Orakpo focused on refining his pass-rushing technique and footwork, as well as studying the NFLs great defensive ends on film this offseason. That should help the 26-year-old two-time Pro Bowler, whose nine sacks were tied for 21st last season. Thats not a significant drop off from the 11 he posted in 2009, but those numbers ought to be trending in the other direction at this point in Orakpos career. Although its probably unreasonable to expect him to amass 22 sacks, like Minnesotas Jared Allen, or 18.5, like Dallas DeMarcus Ware, its not too much to expect Orakpo to crack the top-10, which would require at least 12 sacks. Whether he gets there, though, could hinge on how his surgically-repaired pectoral muscle holds up. Its already cut short his preseason. Will it affect him when the games count?20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 YesterdayCan Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 TodayCan Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 TomorrowWill Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 WednesdayCan the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 ThursdayHow much can Hightower contribute this year?

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After shadowing Odell Beckham, Redskins have different plans for Josh Norman against Terrelle Pryor

After shadowing Odell Beckham, Redskins have different plans for Josh Norman against Terrelle Pryor

Mountains worth of words were used to predict and then describe Josh Norman's matchup with Odell Beckham last Sunday. On game day, the Redskins star corner ended up primarily covering the Giants star receiver. While Beckham succeeded in going for more than 100 yards, Norman's team got the win, while Beckham set the Internet meme machine ablaze by trying to fight a kicking net.

This week when the Redskins face off against the Browns there will be much less hype, yet another skilled wideout for the Washington defense to contend with in Terrelle Pryor.

"He’s a great athlete," Washington coach Jay Gruden said of Pryor. "He’s big, he’s got great ball skills."

MORE REDSKINS: ROOKIE ROB KELLEY HAS FUNNY, HONEST REACTION TO FIRST NFL CARRIES 

Last week in a loss to Miami, Pryor accounted for 200 total yards - 144 receiving, 21 rushing and 35 passing - to go with one touchdown. He's been a force for the Browns this season, using his athletic skill and versatility to line up all over the field. A dual-threat quarterback in college at Ohio State, the Browns like to try Pryor in different spots. Perhaps because of his ability to play all over the field, it seems the Redskins do not intend to have Norman travel in coverage on Pryor.

"We’re still working on our game plan now and [Pryor's] all over the place. He’s been a dynamic player in the NFL," Gruden said. "Team defense is gonna have to take him away, somebody different every time possibly."

Gruden called Pryor's early season success one of the "biggest surprises" in the NFL and it's clear the Browns top wideout is on the Redskins radar. Considering Norman didn't shadow Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant during Washington's contests against those two top wideouts, the decision to cover Pryor collectively seems unsurprising. 

That could change, however, if Pryor begins to pile up catches and yards like he did last week in Miami.

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Redskins rookie Robert Kelley has funny, honest reaction to his first NFL carries

Redskins rookie Robert Kelley has funny, honest reaction to his first NFL carries

It took three games but last Sunday in New York Redskins rookie running back Rob Kelley finally hit the field with the offense. His effectiveness was middling as he ran four times for seven yards, but Kelley showed himself to be capable of backing up Matt Jones as a conventional runner.

The rookie from New Orleans also explained why a few of his runs were cut short.

"I think I was too excited, I kept slipping around or something," Kelley said on Wednesday.

Twice Kelley lost his footing on the Giants Stadium turf, and the slips ruined what could have been opportunities for solid gains. In preseason action Kelley did a good job of identifying holes to run through, and despite the footing issues, that skill showed in New York as well.

"We hadn't been on turf in a long time. Even in pregame, we had a little trouble keeping grounded on the turf," Kelley explained. "I think I saw the holes pretty well, I think I was making the cuts I needed to make, I just got to stay on my feet next time."

Kelley has been active for all three 'Skins games this season but did not record a carry until the third, coincidentally the team's first win. His first game action on offense was quite a jolt for the rookie.

"It was more exciting. Preseason is cool but you go out in a real game it's different," he said. "Once I got out there I thought I was going to be nervous. I wanted to make some plays. I was actually shocked I wasn't kinda nervous, I was more excited than anything."

While Kelley's performance was not the spark responsible for victory, getting carries to a third running back - after Jones and Chris Thompson - shows a true commitment to the run game from Jay Gruden and Sean McVay. That commitment was missing the first two games.

"When Matt Jones get a few more carries I think it's a good sign for me to get some," Kelley said. "I think coach has put together a good game plan for us."

For Jones, he was happy to see Kelley get rush attempts. Just last season, Jones was the rookie hitting the field for the first time.

"It was good to see him get some carries and get downhill," Jones said. The 'Skins starting runner added of Kelley's footing, "He knows he's got to stay on the ground."

Committing to the run for Washington means committing to Jones primarily, yet it could also mean more carries for Kelley. Odds are in his next NFL action he can keep his feet on the ground.

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