Position: Outside linebackers

Grade: B

2012 starters: Brian Orakpo/Rob Jackson and Ryan Kerrigan

Key reserves: Chris Wilson and Vic So'oto

Key free agents: Jackson, Wilson

Rewind: Like other position groups on defense, the outside linebackers were struck by a major injury early.

Standout pass rusher Brian Orakpo re-injured his surgically repaired pectoral muscle in Week 2 against the Rams and was lost for the season, dealing the defense a big blow. In his previous three-plus seasons, Orakpo had recorded 29.5 sacks.

Orakpo's absence had a negative effect on Ryan Kerrigan but it also opened the door for reserve Rob Jackson, who, after an adjustment period, proved to be a more-than-adequate replacement. Jackson, 27, intercepted four passes, returning one for a touchdown, and finished with 4.5 sacks.

Jackson was also clutch down the stretch. His fourth quarter sack of the Giants' Eli Manning on Dec. 3 helped Washington hold on at home. Two weeks later, his third quarter interception against the Browns sparked the Redskins' rally. Then, in the winner-takes-all game regular season finale against the Cowboys, the fifth-year pro helped clinch the victory by picking off Tony Romo in the final minutes.

On the opposite side, Kerrigan struggled a bit early as Orakpo's injury allowed offenses to focus more on blocking him. But Kerrigan adapted, finished strong and was tapped as a late replacement to his first Pro Bowl.

Kerrigan finished his second season with a team-leading 8.5 sacks, 83 tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. The 24-year-old also recorded a team-high 51 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com.