Brian Orakpo, Chris Wilson have a head start at linebacker for Redskins

By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 19, 2010; D02

Blog excerpt from

Last season, there were many who questioned the Redskins shifting Brian Orakpo to linebacker when he showed so much natural ability at rushing the edge. Chris Wilson also made the move last offseason from defensive end to linebacker. Despite the feelings of fans at midseason, considering the new staff's intention to operate more out of a 3-4 base, Wilson and Orakpo essentially enjoyed the benefit of a one-year head start to learn a new position.

"Absolutely," Wilson said. "It's a blessing."

With the team revamping the defense, Orakpo and Wilson would have been moved to linebacker this offseason if last year's coaching staff hadn't already pulled the trigger on the move.

Wilson appeared in all 16 games a season ago, totaling 20 tackles and a sack. His duties will be slightly different in Jim Haslett's defense. He will play outside linebacker and could find himself rushing the passer more often. As a reserve, he's shown a natural instinct for finding the quarterback. As a rookie lining up at defensive end, he posted four sacks.

"I'm still rushing," Wilson said. "I can rush like a D-end, but as far as the concepts, the route concepts, the drops, the zones and all that, coverage-wise, even playing off the ball and understanding how things work, we're fine-tuning everything. But I think I have a natural knack for being where I need to be."

But those assignments are different this season, and Wilson and his fellow linebackers have been spending their minicamp and organized team activities time learning exactly what coaches expect of them.

"I think the difference is just the technique. I think that's what's important in the minicamp and the OTAs, trying to understand exactly what the coaches want and how they want it played," he said. "We know where we're supposed to be at. I think we got a good grasp of the defense and what gap we're in. But we got to be able to play as dominant as they want us to be this year."

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