If the NFL turns to replacement referees this fall, its possible Brian Orakpo will be affected more than most players on the Redskins roster.The league locked out 121 officials in June 3 when negotiations on a new labor contract broke down. The league has since begun the process of hiring replacement officials to work preseason games and, if necessary, regular season contests.Obviously its a messed up situation that they cant get something done, Orakpo said this week at his second annual youth football camp in Fairfax. Hopefully, theyll get something done before the start of the season.But if not, the two time Pro Bowl selection continued, we got to play ball.Orakpo is one of the leagues most feared pass rushers, having racked up 28.5 sacks in his first three seasons. He also draws more holding flags than most.Replacement referees, according to an article in Wednesdays Los Angeles Times, are more prone to missing infractions, such as holding, meaning its possible Orakpo could be subjected to more bear hugs, take downs and clotheslines than before.From The Times:According to referee Ed Hochuli, when replacement officials worked games in 2001, they threw between one and five penalty flags per game. He said there were between 12 and 14 penalties called in a typical game last season.With training camp set to open Thursday, and the Redskins first preseason game a mere three weeks away, Orakpos concern over the impasse is growing. But he also said he wont allow the prospect of replacement referees alter the way he plays.It doesnt change the way I will approach the game at all, he said. Im going to treat them like theyre a regular ref. Fans didnt come to see referees, so we just got to go out there and play ball.The impasse between the league and referees is over pay and benefits.
In the weeks leading up to training camp, Redskins Insider JP Finlay will look at specific people facing increased pressure for the 2017 season.
Pressure Point: Strong safety Su'a Cravens
Cravens flashed his playmaking ability in spots during 2016, but finding the right position and injuries stunted his impact as a rookie. He lost time early in the year to a concussion against the Browns and then saw his season cut short after an arm injury in December in Philadelphia.
Injuries can't be planned on, but in 2017, the position issue should be solved.
Cravens looks poised to open the season starting alongside D.J. Swearinger in the Redskins secondary. The rebuilt safety duo could go a long way towards an improved Redskins defense.
Swearinger established himself as a quality starter last year playing with the Cardinals. Pro Football Focus rated him the No. 8 safety in the NFL. For Cravens, however, this is the year to establish himself.
So far, Redskins coach Jay Gruden likes Cravens' development.
"He’s doing a great job. We’re happy with his progress," Gruden said in June. "I think just the more he plays, the better he’s going to get. The more he can just go practice and watch himself on tape and watch his eye progression and his angles, that’s just going to be huge for him because he continues to develop."
One of the reasons he slipped out of the first round in the 2016 Draft was because of speed. At his USC Pro Day, he ran a 4.69. Is Cravens fast enough to play safety in the NFL?
His 40 time might not suggest it, but the Washington secondary is not full of burners anyway. In fact, linebacker Zach Brown's 4.50 40 time at the NFL Combine was faster than any of the Redskins projected secondary (Cravens, Swearinger, Josh Norman or Bashaud Breeland). The Redskins coaches think proper positioning and communication will account for any lack of speed in their defensive backfield.
In college at USC, Cravens played mostly safety but showed he could line up all over the field. In Washington last season, he played almost exclusively interior linebacker, mostly in dime and nickel situations.
He produced, 23 tackles and an interception in 11 games, but it seemed clear to all parties he was better suited for the secondary. Asked about Cravens late last season, one Redskins player said simply, "Su'a is a safety."
This year, Su'a is a safety.
Week 3 as a rookie, Cravens made arguably the most important play of the Redskins season, intercepting Eli Manning to secure the team's first win of the year. That pick showed exactly why the Redskins drafted Cravens. He was tight in coverage and made a leaping, athletic play on the ball to force the turnover.
As a strong safety, Cravens will inch up towards the box on plenty of snaps and will rarely, if ever, be wholly responsible for deep middle coverage. That should mean plenty more opportunities to make plays like he did in Giants Stadium. The pressure is on.
Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!
Let's just get this out of the way: The Washington Redskins represent Washington, D.C., not Washington state.
Duh, everyone knows that, you might think. But you'd be wrong.
Wrong like this "state pride" license plate sold on NFLShop.com until this morning.
The plates are manufactured by a company called Stockdale Technologies and feature team logos over outlines of their home states.
The Ravens plate, for example, is on a purple background with the state of Maryland outlined in gold behind the logo.
The Redskins version, however, places the team's logo over the state of Washington ... on the other side of the country from Washington, D.C.
The embarrassing error was first reported by The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg, who ordered the license plate before the NFL Shop removed the product from its online store.
The worst part of the whole episode was Steinberg's discovery that the Washington state confusion was hardly an isolated incident.
In fact, Steinberg dug up a number of recent tweets from people who thought the Redskins represented Washington state. Some even thought that about other D.C. teams.
How many of these people actually know that Washington, D.C. is not in Washington state? Or that it's not technically a state?