With his season over and surgery scheduled for today, offensive lineman Jon Jansen returned yesterday to Redskins Park with a bulky cast on his left leg as the Washington Redskins began the process of replacing him. As Jansen hobbled on crutches because of a ruptured Achilles' tendon, reserve lineman Kenyatta Jones was picked, at least for the moment, to fill his spot when practice resumes today.
Joe Bugel, assistant head coach-offense, said Jones will take Jansen's place at right tackle at this afternoon's workout "rather than shaking up the football team" by switching various linemen.
"Kenyatta Jones actually started 11 games with New England at right tackle in their Super Bowl year , so rather than move the left side over to the right side and this and that, maybe moving one guy would be very settling there," Bugel said. "And I talked to him [Monday] night and he's eager to do that."
League sources said the Redskins have contacted a handful of journeymen linemen, inviting two or three to Redskins Park today to work out with the team. The players, if signed, would be for depth purposes and team officials concede that it will be difficult if not impossible to find an impact player to replace Jansen on the trade or free agent market given the timing of the injury.
"What you had in Jon was kind of a mainstay there," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "I didn't even give a thought to worrying about right tackle, you know what I mean, because I knew his history and [being healthy for] every play in college and every play since he's been here, so you don't even give it a thought. I guess that goes to show you in pro sports anything can happen. So when Jon went down it was a big deal for us. He was a leader and kind of a mainstay for us. We're just praying for him."
Jansen was injured on Washington's second offensive series of a 20-17 victory over the Denver Broncos in the exhibition opener in Canton, Ohio, and his loss is a significant blow to an offensive line that struggled last season.
"It's not a very painful injury," Jansen said. "But for me the pain has never been really physical; it was really emotional for me. It's frustrating because we tread water for three or four years and then things really start to look up and now you've got to watch it from the sidelines. That's the part that hurts the most."
The return of Gibbs and Bugel had excited Jansen, who was selected 37th overall in 1999 and is Washington's longest-serving player. With lefty quarterback Mark Brunell vying for the starting job, Jansen's position on the right side of the line was even more important to the team's success, and he had difficulty sleeping Monday night knowing his season was over.
Jansen said he felt his ankle buckle in the first quarter Monday -- he is unsure if the synthetic field turf recently installed in Fawcett Stadium in Canton had anything to do with the freakish injury -- and quickly realized it was serious. He was helped to the sideline and consoled by teammates on the bench before being carted off. Jansen, 28, had never missed a game in the 80 starts of his pro career and prided himself on his durability.
"Everybody who knows me," Jansen said, "they don't expect Jon Jansen to be laying on the ground and having to be helped off the field. At first you feel just like you let everybody down, but then you realize that there's really nothing you could have done about it. . . . It's unfortunate, and it's something I have to deal with and the Redskins have to deal with, and obviously we'll all deal with it together."
Jansen said he will now focus on helping his teammates, lending advice and taking part in meetings. "By no means is this year over for me in terms of being part of the team," Jansen said. "But it is in terms of being on the field." He will likely be in close contact with Jones, a three-year veteran signed in 2003 from New England.
Randy Thomas, a projected starter at right guard, could return from rib and knee injuries this week, Bugel said, which would bolster the line, while rookies Mark Wilson and Jim Molinaro should get more playing time as well.
"We're going to have to have somebody else be a hero," Gibbs said. "We're going to have to find somebody there, and this will be an opportunity to really help the team and step up and make a career for themselves there, I hope."
Bugel said: "To go out and try to get a starting offensive tackle off the streets is almost impossible. Hopefully, within the next four weeks someone is going to rise to the top on our team."
Jansen, meantime, will spend the next six weeks in a non-weight bearing cast and hopes to be able to begin jogging three months from now. His size -- 6 feet 6, 305 pounds -- could push those projections back given the nature of this injury, but Jansen would like to be able to begin practicing in four months, allowing him to get into shape for the start of offseason workouts.
"I've always been a quick mender," Jansen said. "I don't swell very much and there wasn't very much swelling in it today, so I'm shooting for the four-month mark. . . . It's just a pain in the butt for a while and I'll be back next year."
Redskins Notes: League sources confirmed that rookie safety Sean Taylor, who had two interceptions and a touchdown Monday night ("Last week he really lit it up," Gibbs said, "not only in the game but in practice.") officially submitted paperwork with the NFL Players Association making Drew Rosenhaus his new agent. Taylor fired Rosenhaus two days after being taken with the fifth overall pick, used agents Jeffrey Moorad and Eugene Mato to negotiate his contract and then fired them last week and rehired Rosenhaus. Taylor, whose six-year deal includes $13 million in bonus money and could be worth a maximum of $40 million, was upset about the higher bonuses other top picks received after his deal was signed and is seeking to renegotiate, although the contract cannot be altered for one year. Taylor's appeal of his $25,000 fine for leaving the mandatory NFL rookie symposium remains under review and no decision has been made, sources said. . . . The Redskins have canceled today's 9 a.m. practice and the team's final open practice will be today at 4:30 p.m. The rest of camp is closed to the public. . . . Gibbs said linebacker Mike Barrow (tendinitis in left knee) is day-to-day, while defensive end Phillip Daniels (abdominal strain) is out indefinitely. . . . Gibbs called the offensive performance Monday night "rough," but was more concerned with the nine penalties his team committed. "That's a big deal," Gibbs said. "We've been working really hard on that and that upsets you."
. . . the "mainstay" of Washington's offensive line has gone down for the season.