Redskins' Secondary Is Left With Room to Improve After Loss to Ravens

The Redskins open their preseason schedule with a 23-0 loss in Baltimore.
By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 14, 2009

BALTIMORE, Aug. 13 -- Despite the final score and the final statistics, Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache did not look like a man who was worried.

Though his team had lost, 23-0, and his defense had given up 500 yards, Blache said he got what he wanted out of the team's first preseason game. Even before looking at film, he could tell, "some guys rose, some guys sunk."

"I wanted the young kids to go in and play and see who could do what," Blache said following Thursday night's loss to the Ravens. "In the preseason, if I go in and worry about calling the game and not worry about finding out who people are, I'm wasting the preseason. We wanted to see how guys responded to things."

A preseason battle between two of the league's toughest defenses resulted in a shutout for one team and perhaps a few more question marks for the other. While the night marked for the game action for the Redskins' first-round draft pick Brian Orakpo, it also highlighted some depth concerns in the secondary.

Last season, the Redskins finished with the fourth-best defense in the league, allowing 288.8 yards per game. By halftime Thursday, they had given up 258.

"Now it's no knock on them, but we see the best defense every day in practice," said Ravens running back Ray Rice. "It would be like a slap in the face to our defense if we didn't come out here and move the ball."

Most of the Redskins' first-string defensive players were on the field for just one Ravens drive. Cornerback Fred Smoot, who was starting in place of Carlos Rogers, and Orakpo returned for a second series. Though Smoot soon found himself on the sideline, Orakpo played the entire first half.

"I thought he had exceptional speed," Coach Jim Zorn said of his prized rookie. "I thought he played hard. I liked what I saw. I think we got a player there."

The Redskins started Orakpo at linebacker, but he looked more comfortable much of the night when lined up at defensive end, the position that brought him awards and accolades at the University of Texas.

In the final minute of the half, Orakpo breezed by the line and drove through backup quarterback Troy Smith just as he released the ball. It was an incomplete pass, and Orakpo's numbers didn't change on the play -- in fact, he finished the game with just one tackle -- but he showed his impact.

"Linebacker I can continue to improve," Orakpo said. "Reading stuff a lot faster, flying around a lot faster, instead of trying to think too much."

As a team, the Redskins had just one sack and failed to force a turnover. While the defensive line played strong, pressure on the Ravens quarterbacks was spotty. "I didn't have to do anything but sit in the pocket and make the throws," said Ravens starter Joe Flacco.

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