Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Line Challenges

The Redskins are only 4-9, but that doesn't mean they'll be any pushover for the Giants. Even an offense that put up 38 points last week could be in for some trouble against a Redskins front that has 22 sacks split evenly between veteran defensive end Andre Carter and rookie defensive end Brian Orakpo.

Of the two, Orakpo has been the most impressive. Not just because he's got 11 sacks, but because he's a rookie. And there's a good likelihood that he'll go up against another rookie in Will Beatty, who should replace Kareem McKenzie at right tackle while the veteran nurses a sprained left MCL.

Orakpo won the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week award last week for his franchise record-tying four-sack performance in the 34-13 win over Oakland. His sacks totaled 44 yards in losses, the Redskins' most ever. And he added a forced fumble and six tackles to that.

His contributions have been "pretty dramatic," according to Washington coach Jim Zorn.

"All year long, he's given great effort at the d-end position," Zorn said. "We've lightened his load a little at linebacker for a couple of games, but he got right back at it. He's played at a pretty high level for a young rookie."

Linebacker London Fletcher said he's been impressed by Orakpo's demeanor.

"He doesn't carry himself like a rookie, and he doesn't play like a rookie," Fletcher said. "He's focused. A lot of rookies don't have the focus when they come into the league, but when he's in the building he's all about football, studying his opponent and understanding what he needs to do to improve week to week."

He and Carter are the only teammates in the league to reach double-digit sacks. Orakpo has been used primarily as a strongside linebacker, but he pass rushes a lot from that spot, too. He's had 19 hurries in addition to his sacks.

"Well, they have the numbers to back it up," Tom Coughlin told the Washington media today. "They are both outstanding players. They play hard; they always have.
"The young player has definitely made his presence felt, not only as a backer but as a third-down rush end. Carter has always been a most difficult guy to have to contend with. They have played outstanding football."
The good news here is that the Giants have kept Eli Manning's uniform fairly clean throughout the season. He was sacked three times against Philadelphia, but he only has 21 sacks on the season, ranking their pass protection eighth in the league. Beatty, in his second start of the season for McKenzie, will have to hold up his end in a big way if they expect that to stand up.


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