By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 16, 2009
When the new kid in town needed a little help getting settled, he approached some of his veteran teammates.
Jeremy Jarmon, the rookie defensive end acquired with a third-round supplemental draft pick, had signed with the Washington Redskins only two days before the start of training camp and had nowhere to live because of the lengthy process of finding and buying a home. Hands weren't exactly flying into the air to volunteer to take in the 21-year-old, so veteran defensive end Phillip Daniels stepped forward.
"None of the guys was willing to let him stay with them," Daniels said, laughing. "And my kids are back in Chicago and I'm here a lot of the weekends by myself because my wife travels back to see my son play, and I had two extra rooms so I said, 'Yeah, come on in.' "
There could have been no better roommate for Jarmon, who entered the season with the plan of being brought along slowly but instead has turned into one of the bright spots of a dreary start to the season. Jarmon has quickly adjusted to the NFL and has climbed the depth chart, appearing to be a top candidate to one day take over Daniels's starting job.
For now, however, with the veteran defensive end playing with a torn biceps -- he has been limited this week in practice and may take fewer reps against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday -- Jarmon's rapid development has provided a security blanket for a team otherwise lacking depth in key areas.
"It's been great for me, him breaking things down, explaining to me how things work," said Jarmon, who moved in with Daniels about six weeks ago after being in the team's hotel during training camp. "Not only just with what we're doing on defense, but the team and where we were last year because my knowledge of what's going on in the Washington Redskins organization is really limited having only come here in late July. So he's really explained a lot of things to me about what's going on. He's been a big help to me and he's definitely going to get me ready to someday take over."
While the Redskins' lack of depth along the offensive line has been well chronicled -- and now spotlighted with injuries to starters Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas forcing a shuffling of inexperienced and unproven players into starting roles -- Washington's depth on the defensive line is seemingly the strongest of any position on the roster.
Jarmon, rookie linebacker-defensive end Brian Orakpo and defensive tackles Kedric Golston and Lorenzo Alexander have proven valuable as backups and have worked into a rotation along with starters Cornelius Griffin, Albert Haynesworth, Daniels and Andre Carter. Veteran defensive end Renaldo Wynn, who has not been active this season, also remains a reliable option.
The Redskins feel secure enough in their depth on the line, in fact, that they are actively shopping defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery, who has started 21 games the past two seasons, ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline.
But there has been no bigger surprise among those contributing players along the line than Jarmon, whose journey to the Redskins was along the most unconventional route.
Preparing for his final season at the University of Kentucky, Jarmon tested positive for a substance after taking an over-the-counter diet supplement and was ruled ineligible for his final season by the NCAA, effectively ending his career and forcing him to enter the supplemental draft.
Washington selected him in the third round -- five other teams were prepared to take Jarmon in the fourth round, according to NFL sources -- and despite their excitement over his potential, coaches emphasized that he would not be asked to do too much as a rookie.
"I want to be surprised if he has impact this year," Redskins Coach Jim Zorn said in the days after Jarmon was selected. "I'm looking at him as a guy we got a year early, so we can develop and be that much further ahead. When the NFL draft comes around next year, he'll already have a year under his belt. He won't be preparing for his first camp."
Despite those tempered expectations, Jarmon immediately impressed coaches with his maturity and work ethic. In preseason games, Jarmon showed flashes of his potential, pressuring opposing quarterbacks and earning praise from Zorn after one standout performance in a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Prior to opening day, Jarmon had done enough to earn the endorsement of Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who despite an aversion to rookies, praised both Jarmon and Orakpo for their quick adjustment to the professional environment.
Jarmon was active for the regular season opener in New York and has played in every game this season, with his role increasing recently. He has proven both reliable and versatile, playing at several positions -- "I've taken more reps at nose guard and three-[technique] than I've taken in my entire life," he said -- and is beginning to make his presence known. In Washington's 16-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 4, Jarmon registered two solo tackles and forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the outcome.
"When he came in, we knew he had some speed," Zorn said this week. "He has picked up the system very well. So he has earned the reps that he is getting. He is doing the right thing. He's maintaining his gap control, he's putting pressure on the quarterback when we're asking him to. So all the things he is doing is because he gets it. I don't know if it's a surprise to me. Some guys come on quicker than other guys, and he's one of the guys that have been coming on."
No doubt Jarmon is still young -- in the locker room on Wednesday he wore the same backpack he carried his books in last year at Kentucky -- and Daniels, 36, emphasized how much more Jarmon can grow -- in increasing his strength and in his understanding of the game.
But Jarmon so far has proven his ability to absorb information quickly and translate it into his game, and he appears more than settled at the professional level.
Now he just has to get settled off the field, too.
"I just wanted him to come in and stay with me, get that room and be comfortable and then when you get your place ready, you got to get out of there. He told me two weeks. It's been a month," Daniels said, chuckling. "But it's all good. I understand. When you're young, you come into a new environment and you need someone to lean on, and definitely I've been there for him."