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Cofield: Rak makes the whole defense better

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Cofield: Rak makes the whole defense better

RICHMOND—All of the talk about the return of Brian Orakpo after he missed 14 games last season has centered on how much his presence will help Ryan Kerrigan. If Orakpo can play as well as he has in the past, or even better, that should help draw attention away from Kerrigan and allow him to realize his potential going into this third NFL season.

There also has been mention of how an improved pass rush could help the secondary, which is either retooling or revamping, work through its issues.

Barry Cofield recognizes the benefits that Orakpo can provide Kerrigan and the secondary but he brings up another area where Rak can help.

“It’s great to have ‘Rak back, you know, and I think ‘Rak being back makes Ryan better, makes [Stephen] Bowen better, makes the secondary better,” said the Redskins’ nose tackle in a sideline interview during Thursday’s game in Tennessee. “We all work together.”

Cofield brings up the line and the numbers tell the story there. In 2011 with Orakpo playing 16 games the defensive line combined for 18 sacks. Last year, without Orakpo and end Adam Carriker (5.5 sacks in 2011) the line’s sack total dropped to 3.5.

Carriker is on the PUP list and he could miss a substantial chunk of the season, if not all of it. And there is danger is assigning cause and effect to Orakpo’s presence and the line’s sack total. But, as Cofield said, the defense works as a unit and the ripple effects of the absence of a player of caliber of Orakpo flow through the defense.

It’s not like Orakpo will be the panacea for all that ailed the Redskins’ 28th-ranked defense last year. But if he does come back and play “like a hungry wild animal” as Cofield says he will, all levels of the defense will benefit.

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Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

As Jay Gruden stepped to the podium to read the injury report, he warned, “This will be a while.”

He was right, as he rattled off one the longest injury reports of the season.

Out were G Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion), DE Chris Baker (ankle), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Anthony Lanier (lower leg), G Shawn Lauvao (groin), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (illness).

Of that group, all but Jean Francois, Lanier, and Nsekhe are starters. Between them and the limited players listed below it was difficult for the Redskin to conduct a normal practice.

“It was a challenge,” said Gruden of getting through it. “Practice was modified quite a bit today. We did more walkthrough today than we ever have on a Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you have to taper back just a hair to make it through practice, try to get the mental reps in with walkthrough and then hopefully the physical part will come maybe tomorrow. Friday we can open them up a bit.”

Limited in practice were TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and TE Derek Carrier (knee).

READ MORE: FULL UPDATE ON JORDAN REED

Reed returned to practice for the first time since suffering a Grade 3 sprain to the AC joint in his left shoulder in the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He missed the game in Arizona. While his limited participation was a good sign for his return it’ is way too early in the week to say with any degree of certainty that he will be playing against the Eagles.

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Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

RGIII is finally getting another chance to play.

Plagued by injury after injury — most recently breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Eagles in their season opener — the former Redskin is set to start for Cleveland against the Bengals on Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

Griffin was cleared for contact last week after missing the majority of the Browns’ 0-12 season, and the team is coming off a bye week after its last loss to the Giants over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2015, Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin as starting quarterback, and the Redskins released him at the end of the season. He signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland in March.  

In Griffin’s absence, the Browns have relied on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, who boast a 65.5 and 54.5 completion percentage, respectively. The two combine for just 12 touchdowns this season.

Will Griffin be the key to ending the Browns’ winless season? We’ll find out Sunday.

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