Brian Orakpo stretches on the first day of training camp. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND – The 2013 season is a big year for the Washington Redskins as they try to build on last season’s success and show they have developed into a contender in the league and not just a flash-in-the-pan team.

But the 2013 campaign also carries great significance for the future of a number of defensive players. Twelve defensive players – six of them starters – are entering the final years of their contracts.

Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, Rob Jackson, E.J. Biggers, Chris Baker and Nick Barnett all will be free agents in the offseason of 2014.

Such a situation should make for a highly motivated collection of players.

“I think anytime you go into a contract year, if you have common sense, not only do want to play well for us, you want to play well for other teams that are out there so you can have the best leverage for contracts,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “I think every player knows that going into his last year. There is no difference with our players. We have got a lot of guys on our football team that we would like back. Hopefully they have the type of year that warrants that type of big contract because we would like to take care of our players.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

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What’s ahead:

● Friday’s second practice is at 3:20 p.m. Saturday’s Fan Appreciation Day begins at noon. If you’re headed to Richmond, check our our guide to training camp for tips on getting autographs, where to park and things to do after the session is over.

More from The Post:

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D.C. Sports Bog: Redskins fans in the rain | More Bog & Redskins

Mike Jones’s observations from Thursday’s practices | Previous days’ observations

Polumbus tries to hold off Pashos, Trueblood in battle for right tackle job

Evan Royster vies for a role in the Redskins’ backfield

Redskins’ success, coaching staff helped convince Barnett to sign

The Early Lead: Cooper excused from Eagles | Locker room divided?

Training camp photos: