Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan preached the importance of building organizational depth this offseason, a movement that will be tested with the Week 2-loss of Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo on defense.
Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and veteran linebackers Rob Jackson or Chris Wilson will likely be thrust into starting roles the rest of the season as Carriker (quad-tendon tear) and Orakpo (torn pectoral muscle) recover from their injuries suffered in Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.
Jackson said he, Wilson and Jenkins can be playmakers for the Redskins defense.
"I think we have the talent and the capability of filling in and doing more than just our job by actually going out there and making plays," Jackson said.
Jenkins said all players on the roster – regardless of where they fall on the depth chart – should prepare as if they're starting every game.
"When somebody's injured, we shouldn't have a drop off," Jenkins said. "That's what everybody gets coached for, it's why everybody goes to training camp, it's why our defensive line coach coaches everybody the same, because once one guy goes down, somebody has to step up."
Filling the void left by Carriker and Orakpo's absences won't be easy.
Carriker had a career year last season with the Redskins, registering 5.5 sacks to go with 49 tackles. He is a force in the run game, who can also bring pressure on the quarterback.
Orakpo has been the Redskins' most consistent pass rusher since he was selected by the team in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. In three-plus seasons, the Texas product has 29.5 sacks, 170 tackles, six forced fumbles and two Pro Bowl selections (2009, 2010). Orakpo was also selected as a Pro-Bowl alternate last season.
Shanahan knows that Jackson and Wilson have some big shoes to fill.
"They both have to step up and play at a very high level because we all know what Orakpo has been for our defense and how well he played," Shanahan told reporters on Monday. "Both of those guys will play at that position and hopefully they play well."
Jackson mentioned how important the "next-man-up" mentality is in the NFL.
"It's a big opportunity, and not only for myself, but for any backup," Jackson said. "You're a backup in a position waiting for that day or that game where you actually start a game."
Jenkins, who also suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason of his rookie year in 2011, said it was difficult to see Carriker go down on early in Sunday's 31-28 loss to the Rams.
"I learned 60, 70 percent of my game from Adam," Jenkins said. "I learned a lot from him, even from last year, he talked to me every day when I got hurt, just motivating me on what to do. That's a tough loss for us.
"You know, [he's] like one of my brothers."
The Redskins also made two roster moves to bolster their defensive depth on Tuesday, moving defensive end Doug Worthington from the practice squad to the active roster and signing outside linebacker Markus White from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad.
White was originally drafted by the Redskins in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft and spent all of the 2011 season on the Redskins' active roster, appearing in two games.