Trench Warfare - A Look at the Redskins' Defensive Front

Rak leads team drills, looking to exceed expectations this season - USA TODAY Sports

In years past we have expanded our D-line into some of the more aggressive and agile pass rushers in the league. This has allowed us to open our defense into packages to utilize not only strength but also swift 3rd down blitzes coming from any direction. With that said, this year could mean bad news for opposing Quarterbacks.

Now, we don't mean to brag but hell let's give it a shot. Let's be honest, we have arguably the most athletic defensive line in the NFL. However, statistics might not give the credit that they deserve. Last year we ranked 28th in the NFL in Total Defense. Being plagued with some misfortune and the injury bug, it's safe to say we got lucky on a few things.

Let's review what the injury bug means. Brian Orakpo, for example, was injured with a torn left pectoral in a week 2 loss against St. Louis and was out the rest of the season after suffering a similar injury in 2011. Adam Carriker, his trusted backup, was injured with a torn quad tendon after having a career-year with the Skins nailing 5.5 sacks and signing a 4 year $20 million contract in March. Not all was lost though, we did notice we had a guy by the name Rob Jackson who came up huge in some key plays down the stretch. Not to mention Ryan Kerrigan had a Pro-Bowl caliber year with 8.5 sacks, 54 tackles, 2 FF, 1 FR, and an interception for a touchdown. Lorenzo Alexander also put up huge numbers rewarding him with a Pro-Bowl selection (now with the Cards). With a healthy Jarvis Jenkins this year, we can really do some damage in the trenches, plug up the holes and send the opposing team back on their heels. It's no secret the Redskins have depth behind our starters.

Recently Brian Orakpo was with Larry Michaels on Redskins Nation and spoke about the expectations for this season. He was quoted saying "I expect a lot out of myself. I have expectations coming back from injury and expectations of a high sack number," Not to mention this is the last year of Rak's rookie contract, #98 says "I'm ready to go into this year, wreak havoc and do my thing." Atta boy Rak. Not to mention this year could possibly mean a hefty salary difference in years to come, which the Redskins will happily consider upon results of this year.

Adam Carriker recently under went a second surgery and is to begin camp on the PUP list with his season status uncertain. “My strength within the motion I have is pretty good. But we got to get more motion out of it just to be able to play football, first of all, and then just to be able to live a normal life and do things of that nature. So we get that range of motion back, shoot, I should be able to go. It’s just it might take a while to get that.” said Carriker in a recent interview with Washington Times. Not to worry, we'll have plenty of time for exposure and recovery. Better safe than sorry, and Adam is certainly a talent worth waiting for.

Expectations are high and roles are even more demanding this year. Both Jenkins and Jackson are expected to play a pivotal role in adding pressure in the backfield. Jenkins was recently in a WT article with expectations of this year.

With all this said, we have a lot to live up to this year. But with the tools we have and the potential as backups, there is no cap on what this defensive front can do. Only a matter of time til we see it first hand at Training Camp in RVA.

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