ASHBURN, Va. -- I like talking to Brian Orakpo because he's a friendly, insightful guy and because he's got this awesome deep voice that matches his physically intimidating presence. I am not alone.
"I can certainly see where you're coming from," Redskins rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan told me after morning practice when I ran that observation past him. "He's got the traps that are almost up to his ears, and his voice certainly matches his physique. He's certainly an imposing guy and a good guy to have on our side."
Especially good for Kerrigan, the first-round pick who played 4-3 defensive end at Purdue but will stand up and play 3-4 outside linebacker in Washington. Orakpo made a similar transition last season when the Skins switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 (he'd been a 4-3 strongside linebacker in 2009 who rushed from a three-point stance on passing downs), but he told me Kerrigan's will be tougher.
"You just kind of practice your technique differently as far as the balls of your feet, staying low, different things that you pick up," Orakpo said. "The transition wasn't that difficult for me, but Kerrigan, he was strictly defensive end, so it's going to take a while to kind of get used to it."
Orakpo said the biggest difference for him was learning to generate explosiveness from just his feet and legs, as opposed to his hips and his hands. Kerrigan seems to feel the biggest difference is in perception and point of view.
"It's just seeing the field from a whole new perspective," Kerrigan said. "When you're a DE in a 4-3 scheme, you kind of have tunnel vision because you can kind of only see what's ahead of you when you’re in a three-point stance, but when you're in a two-point stance you're seeing the whole field and seeing everything from a whole different angle, and I think that's the biggest adjustment."
This twosome will be spending a lot of time together here, even though a bruised knee has been keeping Kerrigan out of practice for the past few days. He's planning to pick Orakpo's brain, and Orakpo doesn't mind. He's entering his third year in the league, but roster turnover here has thrust him into a surprising role.
"Very odd, man," he said. "I'm only going into my third year and already guys are looking at me as being the veteran on the team. So it's a different era, where we're at right now, but I'm excited for the opportunity."
*You wanted observations, I have a few: Trent Williams looks much less fat than I remember him looking when I was here last year, and Orakpo said he's noticed the difference in Williams' performance at the point of attack... John Beck was intercepted by DeAngelo Hall on consecutive pass attempts at one point during 11-on-11 drills, which wasn't exactly awesome. But he threw some nice deep balls, including one beauty that Anthony Armstrong dropped... Beck was the quarterback who ran the first-team offense... If there's a receiver about whom people are talking, it's Leonard Hankerson, though it's obviously quite early. He seems energetic and involved... Santana Moss loves him some Mike Shahanan. Said during the lockout and his very brief free agency that he "stayed away from anything that had to do with not being here. The coaching staff we brought in here last year, what they showed me gave me the confidence that, if we put the right pieces in the right places, we can do great things." But when asked about Beck, Moss shrugged, said he'd played with 10 different quarterbacks in 11 years and doesn't pay much attention to it. So there's that.
*Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network tweeted that recently released former Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu and recently released former Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden will visit the Redskins this week. I wonder now if Hayden's visit will still happen, though, since Phillip Buchanon tweeted that he was coming back to the Redskins and that, along with the recently signed Josh Wilson, should provide the depth at the cornerback spot even with Carlos Rogers leaving. Tatupu could play inside linebacker next to London Fletcher, but Scouts Inc's Matt Williamson told me recently he didn't think Tatupu would fit in Washington since he's not the kind of big, physical "take-on" linebacker they need in that spot. So we'll see. Everybody's been asking for Tatupu news, so now you have some.
"We'll have competition there as well as at all the positions," Shanahan said. "You look at Graham's percentages last year, and he knows he's going to have some competition and that if he doesn't perform, somebody's going to take his spot."
He was talking about Gano there, FYI.