"I was actually celebrating it with my fiance in a sushi joint," Orakpo said. "It's one of my favorite foods. I got the call and couldn't even enjoy it no more."
Signing status of first-round picks
Although the contract includes $12.1 million in guaranteed money, Orakpo's fiance picked up the check -- even a suddenly wealthy beau doesn't get to pay for his own birthday meal. The distracted No. 13 overall draft pick from the University of Texas then headed home, packed his bags and caught an early flight to arrive in time to join his teammates on the field for Friday morning's practice, ending a one-day holdout on the day he turned 23.
"Got the deal done. My pocket's a little bigger. On your birthday, it's always a good thing," Orakpo said.
Sporting a burgundy and black skullcap, Orakpo took part in only a few drills before removing his helmet about halfway through the two-hour workout. Coach Jim Zorn said there was still some paperwork to sort out and that Orakpo's first official practice would take place during the afternoon session.
"He's just overexcited," Zorn said. "He's just fired up about being here."
But Orakpo had to cool his heels a bit longer. A severe thunderstorm canceled the afternoon practice, postponing his true debut to Saturday.
Orakpo was the only player absent when training camp opened Thursday, and the Redskins stressed the need to have him signed as soon as possible because he will be asked to master two positions -- a familiar one and a new one.
Primarily a defensive end in college, Orakpo is envisioned as a starting strongside linebacker who moves to the line in pass-rushing situations. Defensive coordinator Greg Blache was especially critical of Orakpo on Thursday, saying the holdout was hurting both the player and the team and benefiting only the player's agent.
Orakpo said Blache's comments did not affect the negotiations.
"That's coach Blache," Orakpo said. "He's not a guy to hold his tongue. That's one thing I respect."
Although the Redskins were fourth in yards allowed last season, the defense was tied for 28th in sacks and tied for 30th in recovered fumbles. The team expects Orakpo, who had 11 sacks last year for the Longhorns, and new defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to produce the kind of mayhem needed to make those game-changing plays.
"Create havoc," Orakpo said. "Fly around. Young legs, fresh legs, do what I do best."
Orakpo said he spent the past month working out at the University of Texas -- his usual summer routine -- but this time he worked more on linebacker drills to prepare him for his new assignment.
Zorn has a no-tolerance rule regarding hazing, so the new millionaire was spared the type of overt pranks often played on holdouts after the first practice. All Orakpo got was some good-natured razzing, with comments such as "Big Money is here."
"They used to tape rookies up to the goal post and pour cold water on them," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "Now the hazing thing, coach Zorn won't allow it. Last year he cut that out. Maybe we'll make him sing or something."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press