2013 Roster in Review: Inside linebackers

Inside linebacker

Starter: Karlos Dansby, Daryl Washington

Backups: Kevin Minter, Jasper Brinkley

Under contract in 2014: Washington, Minter and Brinkley.

Cash committed in ‘13: $7.7 million

Cap committed in ‘13: $7.2 million

Recap: Arizona didn’t let the first four games define its season at inside linebacker. Washington sat out the first quarter of the season because he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy, putting the Cardinals in a minor predicament. But the recently released Brinkley was a suitable replacement until Washington returned. When he did, however, Washington picked up where he left off in his 2012 Pro Bowl season, finishing with 81 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. While the early focus was on the right inside linebacker, Dansby slowly became one of the best linebackers in the NFL. At 32, he played at his lowest weight in years and it resulted in 114 tackles,6.5 sacks and four interceptions – two of which he returned for touchdowns. Neither made the Pro Bowl but both had a case, especially Dansby. As the season progressed, he became a significant cog in the Cards’ sixth-ranked defense because of his ability to play in all three layers – stuff the run, handle his linebacking duties as well as drop back into coverage. And his lower weight was on display when he went sideline to sideline.