Between now and training camp, Mike Jones takes a closer look at players who find themselves competing for key roles this season, or are in position battles this preseason.
When they selected him in the second round of the 2011 draft, the Redskins saw defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins as a player who could develop into a force in the trenches – stout against the run, and disruptive in the pass-rush department.
But four seasons later, Washington is still waiting for the return on their investment in the Clemson product. Jenkins missed all of his rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Then he wound up starting 14 games at left end in 2012 because of an injury to starter Adam Carriker, and he showed signs of promise but lacked consistency. Last season, after returning from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, Jenkins seemed to do better against the run, and did record two sacks after going without one the year before.
But he still lacked the explosiveness, disruptiveness, lateral quickness and consistency needed to raise his game to the next level.
Now, it appears that Jenkins’s days as a starter could be over, at least for the time being.
Washington this offseason signed Jason Hatcher with plans of starting him at right end, and using him as an interior lineman on the fast nickel packages. Meanwhile, Washington’s coaches are happy with the growth third-year pro Chris Baker has displayed over the past two seasons. During offseason practices, he often lined up as the starting left end. Jenkins, meanwhile, saw time as a backup, and on the nickel packages where Barry Cofield and Hatcher (who both missed practices with injury) would have been used.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wants depth up front, and he wants to use a steady rotation of players to ensure that his linemen remain fresh. So all hope is not lost for Jenkins. But, as he enters the final year of his rookie contract, he must make more of an impact.
He needs to do a better job of knocking his man off the line, and then find ways to get to the quarterback. He also must make more stops at or behind the line in the run game.
This training camp and preseason, Jenkins has to find a way to stand out. He has Baker and Hatcher ahead of him. He also has Clifton Geathers, Kedric Golston, and presumably Stephen Bowen (if he can make a comeback from microfracture surgery) vying for spots on the depth chart.
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