(By John McDonnell - TWP.)

Remember the last time the Skins had the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year? Try never. No, Jim Haslett in 1979 doesn’t count.

This might be the year, though. Peter King, in his weekly SI.com column, wrote on Monday that “through the first quarter of the season, the most valuable defensive rookie is Ryan Kerrigan, who has given Brian Orakpo a guy opposite him who can take some of the pressure away.”

And Orakpo himself began pushing that campaign during an NFL Network appearance.

“I mean, the guy is not a rookie, man,” Orakpo said. “The guy is playing phenomenal. And I hope he doesn’t this watch this, because if he doesn’t win Rookie of the Year, we’re going to be very disappointed. Because the guy is playing tremendously for our defense, and he’s making some huge plays.”

(By the way, Haslett went on St. Louis radio last week and said the injured defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins is “probably going to be our best defensive lineman,” which would be interesting.)

Orakpo also said that when the final Rams stats are tallied, he’ll be credited with 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble, which isn’t bad. And he offered his own vote of confidence for the team’s sometimes shaky quarterbacking.

“I love the confidence Rex has,” Orakpo said. “I mean, we all believe in him. He brings that leadership to this team, and regardless of whatever happens out there, we’re 100 percent behind his back. I just love the spark he has. I mean, even though everybody makes mistakes here and there, the guy is just ready to go back on the field and try to make big plays, and try to make big things happen. And I’m excited for that.”

As for the Redskins moving from a bottom-of-the-league defense to a top-10 unit through the season’s first quarter,

“Man, guys are believing in each other,” Orakpo said. “Basically what we say everyday is we leave the egos at the door and just come together and play as one. And you can really see a difference in this team, in this Redskins’ defense, from years past. We had our ups and our downs, but we got the right personnel, we got the right coaching staff on board and guys are really playing together.”