Brian Orakpo learning to play with injury

ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo made it clear he should still produce. He also made it clear it’s an injury that could linger for a while; like the entire season.

Orakpo has a sprained left middle finger that he uses a splint to protect, but that can make it troublesome at a position where he must uses his hands.

“I don’t want to use that as an excuse, but it’s evident I can’t use my hands like I want to,” Orakpo said. “We’re still trying to find techniques and ways to alleviate the pain and give me some more cushion as far as grabbing and getting off the play.”

Orakpo said he expects the finger to bother him “for a while. Until an offseason deal [like surgery]. I don’t know. But I’m out there, so I’m out there.”

In other words: If you’re out there, you still must produce. Thus far, Orakpo has only a half sack. Some of that can be explained: He rarely rushed against Houston because of the Texans’ scheme. And quarterbacks are throwing the ball fast: 85 of the 130 passes attempted against Washington have been released in 2.3 seconds or less. Only four teams have faced more quick passes.

But that’s also not an excuse: Both Miami and Kansas City have faced more – 97 and 87, respectively. Yet both teams have eight sacks in those situations compared to Washington’s four. Quarterbacks have an 87.5 passer rating on such throws. Only two defenses have a worse rating, suggesting teams are throwing fast as much because there’s little resistance on the back end.

Last week, Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw 27 of his 39 passes in less than 2.3 seconds. Again: zero resistance on the back end led to open receivers off the snap. Seattle's Russell Wilson, Monday's opponent, has thrown 61 percent of his passes within that time. The strong guess is that this percentage will be higher Monday.

“We have to get there quicker,” Orakpo said. “When you have games like that, you have to do the best you can to see if you can win the rush or steal a rush if he wants to hold it longer. But we have to do a better job of getting there.”

Early in the Giants game, the first one in which Orakpo had to play with his finger injury, he avoided using his left hand as much, whether on bull rushes or even rip moves. That changed as the game unfolded. Still, he was silent in the rush game with no quarterback hits (the Redskins had only one). That’s not the way to earn the big-money contract he desires after the season. There are always reasons a player doesn’t produce big numbers; sometimes it’s because that’s not who they are. Orakpo hasn’t been focused on his contract and, therefore, his numbers. But he knows what plays aren’t being made, both by him and the rest of the defense.

“It’s frustrating because we want to get there, we want to make the big plays and help our defense out and get the sacks and forced fumbles like you see other teams do,” Orakpo said. “We have to deal with what we’re faced with and do our best we can with each opportunity. It’s frustrating because you want to get there and make big plays and help our defense. It’s tough.”