From Comcast SportsNetASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- The early glow from Robert Griffin III's fast start faded quickly for the Washington Redskins on Monday when defensive starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker were declared out for the season.Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Orakpo tore the pectoral muscle near his left shoulder, and defensive end Carriker tore the quad tendon in his right knee in the first quarter of Sunday's 31-28 loss to the St. Louis Rams.The injuries rob two players from a team that has allowed 63 points and more than 800 yards in its first two games, tempering the early promise by Redskins (1-1) have shown with rookie quarterback Griffin."It's an opportunity for somebody else now," linebacker London Fletcher said. "We're a no-excuse football team."Orakpo had surgery on the same shoulder after a suffering tear in the final game of last season, then damaged some scar tissue in the shoulder during a preseason game last month.Coach Mike Shanahan said the latest tear is in a different part of the muscle. Orakpo will have surgery and require four months of recovery time.Orakpo, a first-round draft pick in 2009, had at least 8 sacks in each of his first three NFL seasons. He was injured Sunday while making his first -- and only -- sack of this season. He returned to the game twice but was unable to keep playing."He's obviously everything you look for in a Pro Bowl player," Shanahan said. "And we'll miss him."Shanahan said Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson, a pair of career backups without an NFL start between them, will compete to take Orakpo's outside linebacker spot.Carriker was hurt on the Rams' second offensive play and did not return. The fifth-year veteran, who had 5 sacks a year ago, will require five months of rehabilitation after his surgery.He will be replaced by Jarvis Jenkins, a 2011 second-round pick who missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury."A real big opportunity," Jenkins said. "Coming off the knee injury, I get a chance to prove I'm a hard worker and just make plays."Two other defensive starters also are nursing injuries. Cornerback Josh Wilson left Sunday's game with a concussion and will be reevaluated Wednesday, and safety Brandon Meriweather hopes to play this week against the Cincinnati Bengals after missing the first two games with sprained ligaments in his left knee.
The phone kept ringing, and even when Chris McCullough's agent told him that he had been traded to the Wizards the 6-10 big man didn't believe it.
"It definitely caught me off-guard. It was unexpected," said McCullough, who arrived after the Wizards practiced Thursday and joined them for their first post-All-Star Game at the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. "I was sleeping when it happened. My phone just started ringing, ringing, ringing. I finally answered it. I got a text saying I was traded to the Wizards. I thought my agent was messing with me."
McCullough, who was acquired in a deal that also sent Brooklyn Nets teammate Bojan Bogdanovic to Washington, has spent most of his second NBA season with the Long Island Nets, playing for the D-League. He had to take a pair of two-hour flights to get to D.C. from Grand Rapids, Mich.
Before he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in a game January 2015, five months before the NBA draft. The Nets still took him 29th overall in the first round.
"People had projected him as a possible lottery pick," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "He’s still coming back off of that injury. He’s 6-foot-10, runs the floor well, he can shoot the basketball, very athletic and he has some upside. We’re going to try to develop him. We’re going to try to work with him and how much he develops we’ll see. It’s really going to be up to him."
McCullough's NBA experience is limited because of the injury. He was able to recover in time during his rookie season to play in 24 games. He averaged 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds when he averaged 15.1 minutes. This season, under a new coach, he only has played in 14 games and averaged just 5.1 minutes in 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds before logging most of his action in the D-League.
"I’m going to try to do the little things, be the guy who hustles the most, diving on the floor for loose balls, anything to (help) my team win," McCullough said. "I like to run the floor, rebound. Hopefully John Wall throws me some (lobs). I’m ready for it."
Just turning 22, McCullough is the type of player the Wizards are willing to invest time in under coach Scott Brooks (see undrafted rookies Danuel House, Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon Mac). They were less likely to do it previously because then-coach Randy Wittman preferred proven veterans.
Development is a major part of Brooks' lure.
"I did not know much about him. He has good size. Athletic, working on his outside shot," Brooks said. "He's a young, developing player. We don't know what he can be. But I know with myself and our staff, and how we approach all of our players, we're going to push him and demand that he keeps getting better and improving and see how far we can get him. It's not just a throw-in (for the trade). It's somebody we're going to see how good we can get him and we go from there."
McCullough sees himself developing into one of the league's most sought-after assets.
"Be a stretch four," he said. "I think I’m that now. ... I have no idea how good I’m going to be yet."
Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 24, 13 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.
—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 5
—NFL Combine (3/2) 6
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 52
—NFL Draft (4/27) 62
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 198
Friday quick hitters
What about Baker? I’m not sure what the Redskins’ thinking is regarding Chris Baker. As with all their other free agents the Redskins haven’t been in communication with Baker’s camp, waiting for the chance to scope out the market at the combine next week. I think that Baker’s fate will depend on cost. If they can get in for around $7 million or less, he stays. If the bidding pushes his deal up much higher than that I think he’s gone.
McCloughan’s status: It’s not exactly news that Scot McCloughan doesn’t have the full powers that many NFL GMs have. He has always been more of a super scout, in charge of stocking the roster. He is not frozen out when it comes to contracts and financial matters but they never have been his strong suit and they are best left to Bruce Allen and, particularly, Eric Schaffer.
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Anything new? So, was there much new in Jerry Brewer’s column in the Post yesterday? Given that the power structure has been in place for over two years now, it doesn’t appear that there was. Brewer essentially said it himself: “McCloughan isn’t necessarily losing power as much as he is having his lack of power revealed.” So during this past two years, while the team improved from 4-12 to playoff contention, things have been how they are now. Let me be clear, there were some disturbing insights in Brewer’s article such as the team’s lack of a response to a request for comment on Chris Cooley’s on-air musing about McCloughan’s alcohol consumption. But on how things work on the organizational chart at Redskins Park it’s been the same.
Who wants Kirk? We are at a point where the popular perception among the fans and media is that Allen is the one who will run Kirk Cousins out of town, either this year or next, while McCloughan and Jay Gruden are begging for him to stay. The narrative is that Allen is the bad buy and McCloughan is the good guy because that’s the way fans and some in the media perceive it. But I would pump the brakes on the notion that McCloughan is willing to pay whatever it takes to keep Cousins around. We haven’t heard from him this year but last year he said on multiple occasions that while he was interested in keeping Cousins around for the long haul the team needs to be careful not to give up too much of the salary cap to one player. That doesn’t sound like he’s all in on giving Cousins a blank check.
More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?
Cousins is right to go for the money: Some fans in my Twitter timeline are calling for Cousins to take less money from the Redskins to help Allen and McCloughan pay other players. That’s not happening, nor should it. Jim Trotter of ESPN referred to Cousins as a “mercenary” and he meant it in a positive way. What he is doing is using the NFL system to maximize his earnings potential. Look around at what has been happening around the NFL over the last few weeks, with players getting dumped when they are no longer of use to their teams—and instances of players getting cut will increase exponentially soon—and you should understand why there’s not anything wrong with a player getting as much money as he can while he can. If you add in the short careers they have and the risk that they might spend the last 40-plus years of your life having trouble getting out of bed every morning or suffering from worse problems and you still don't get it, I can't help you. Cousins should get as much money as he can and it's the job of the team that voluntarily pays him that to figure out how to make it work around him.
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In case you missed it
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- Questions emerge if McCoy can produce similar results at less cost than Cou...
- The Cam Newton/Kirk Cousins debate is ridiculous
- DT McDowell could fit Redskins but there are plenty of questions
- Will the Redskins bring back Baker?
- Redskins free agency needs—Offense