Rob Jackson aims to capitalize on chance to start

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo will miss Saturday’s preseason game against Indianapolis, and that means a rare opportunity for the Redskins’ Rob Jackson.

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo will miss Saturday’s preseason game against Indianapolis, and that means a rare opportunity for Rob Jackson.

It may be only a preseason game, but Jackson — a fourth-year pro out of Kansas State — sees the chance to start as a huge break.

“It’s a great opportunity. That’s what this league is all about: opportunity,” the 6-foot-4, 266-pound Jackson said. “It’s all about what you do with it. Either you capitalize on it, or you take it and be average and mediocre. I plan on capitalizing, showing the coaches and everybody else that I can play; that I know what I’m doing.”

Jackson served as Orakpo’s backup last season, and he appeared in a career-high 16 games, but saw extended playing time in only one of them – the season finale in which Orakpo left the game with a torn left pectoral muscle. The year before that, Jackson appeared in two late-season games, recording a sack in the Dec. 26 game at Jacksonville.

Jackson played defensive end as a rookie in 2008, and then moved to outside linebacker once Washington switched to the 3-4 defense. He has had to rely on practices to develop his skills, but he feels well prepared if he were to get the opportunity to ever start during the regular season.

“It helps watching the guys in front of me because they’re starters for a reason, and then following what the coaches say, and then I just fall into place,” Jackson said. “You take mental reps and execute on the ones where you get the chance.”

Jackson, who last season spelled Orakpo for a play here and there during games, expects more playing time this season even once the team’s sacks leader returns.

“They’re working me in — having me, Ryan and Rak on the field at the same time,” he said. “That brings great excitement. We all can rush, we all can drop, we all can go inside. The sky’s the limit.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.

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