Linebacker Brian Orakpo didn’t enjoy the way last season ended for him, being named an alternate to the Pro Bowl. After two trips his first two years he wants another.
“I don’t want to be an alternate, I want to be there every year,” Orakpo said. “Winning will help. We win some games and be a team that’s relevant and that will obviously help a lot of guys on this team.”
To make sure he returns, Orakpo said he worked on every aspect of his game. I wrote a story about his desire to improve as a pass rusher. Orakpo emphasized once again that he won’t alter his game – he’s a power rusher – but he stressed Tuesday that he needs to learn counter moves.
“I’m a physical rusher, I get into tackles and I like to get after it,” he said.
Orakpo also worked on his pass drops.
“My awareness, where my eyes would be when normally I’m pass rushing instead of just running out there blind,” he said. “I worked with one of my homies, Derrick Johnson. The way he drops and what eh looks at out there. I’m trying to get better at that aspect, where to make sure I’m planting my feet when the quarterback plants his feet so I can react to the ball.”
2. When Orakpo has beaten left tackle Trent Williams this summer, it’s often come on a counter move, working back to the inside. Not that Orakpo is beating Williams often. Orakpo said the third-year tackle looks much better.
“He’s playing at an elite level,” Orakpo said. “I told him he’s top three in the league for sure right now. … [It’s] his footwork, his ability. He’s very athletic. And he’s very strong at the point. It’s tough. If you think about running around the edge on him it’s impossible because he’s very athletic and he’s very strong.”
By the way, Orakpo said that stats don’t matter to him. But he said nearly two weeks ago: “Everyone’s goal is to hit double-digit sacks. If anyone tells you they don’t care, they’re lying. If I don’t hit double-digit sacks, it’s not a good year. I want to be in the top five leading sacks. … I know I can. I just have to go out there and do it.”
3. Right guard Chris Chester, who sprained his left ankle Monday, said he anticipates a quick return. Coach Mike Shanahan called him a longshot to play Thursday vs. Buffalo, but Chester is optimistic any time missed will be brief.
“I’ve had similar things before, it’s nothing major, really,” Chester said. “I wouldn’t think it will take very long.”
Chester said if Thursday were a regular season game he likely would play. If he can’t play, rookie Adam Gettis would likely take his place; he worked with the starters after Chester hurt his ankle Monday.
4. Safety Tanard Jackson, who returned five days ago from a left calf injury, said he’s playing to the speed he wants. However, he said he’s still not breaking on the ball the way he’d like.
“Definitely not,” Jackson said. “This is my first week. Obviously some work needs to be done, but overall I feel good.”
Jackson will compete with Madieu Williams to start at free safety, but both must learn the strong safety position as well.
“It’s always a work in progress,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of things I need to work on. First and foremost, learning the defense and learning more about the guys I’m playing with.”
5. A few post-practice notes. Shanahan ruled out the following players for Thursday’s preseason opener at Buffalo: running back Tim Hightower (knee), receiver Anthony Armstrong (shoulder), fullback Darrel Young (hamstring), left guard Kory Lichtensteiger (knee) and right tackle Jammal Brown (hips). Evan Royster will start at running back. Graham Gano will get the first attempt at field goals ahead of Neil Rackers.
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