Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo wanted to make something clear. Orakpo knows he isn’t widely considered an elite player. But he should be listed among the NFL’s best. Just ask him.

“Absolutely,” he said after organized team activities Thursday at Redskins Park. “My teammates know it, my coaches know it and my peers, the guys I go against, they know it. . . . The perception that’s out there man, trust me, that’s gonna change.”

There’s only one way to make it happen: Orakpo has to get more sacks. In today’s pass-happy NFL, edge rushers such as Orakpo are measured on their ability to get the quarterback. In his first three seasons, Orakpo had 28.5 sacks. That’s a solid total. It was good enough to help Orakpo earn two Pro Bowl selections.

Having solid stats, though, won’t elevate you among the stars at the league’s glamour position on defense. Also, Orakpo is seeking a big contract extension. Coach Mike Shanahan would rather find cheaper options than reward players whose production doesn’t match their salary demands.

It’s time for Orakpo to prove he’s special. After his 2012 season ended in Week 2 because of a torn chest muscle, Orakpo must return better than ever. He’ll have to pile up sacks — something in the 13 to 16 range. He needs to produce more in games against NFC East opponents. Orakpo has to convince Shanahan he’s indispensable.

The Redskins’ awful performance on defense last season should help Orakpo make his case. Without Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker, also sidelined for the final 14 games because of a torn thigh muscle, the Redskins ranked 28th out of 32 teams in total defense. They were even worse against the pass: 30th. In 2011, the Redskins finished 13th overall on defense.