RICHMOND — Every time the defensive coaches wanted to emphasize a point to defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, or show him the correct way to run a play, they used game video from 2011. They also showed the same guy: Adam Carriker.
It hammered home a point. Carriker made plays because of his technique and because he understood the defense and knew what to look for in the offense. Now, with Carriker likely sidelined for the season after a third surgery on his right quad Thursday, Jenkins needs to do more than pay attention. Though Jenkins started 15 games last season, he did not have the impact desired, at least when it came to rushing the passer.
With Carriker out, the burden for rushing the passer from left end falls mostly on Jenkins. Chris Baker can split time between backup nose tackle and end, but he’s still new to the position as far as playing it in the NFL. Kedric Golston will help backup, as usual, but is considered a run stopper.
“I was coming into this camp fighting for a job because Adam was a great player here,” Jenkins said. “[Then] a situation like this comes up and I’m like, okay, I’m ready to go.”
Jenkins worked all offseason to improve his first step, wanting to make himself more explosive. He wanted to take a bigger first step compared to last season when his short steps often left him unable to get up-field quick enough. At times fellow end Stephen Bowen would be a good yard ahead of him on the other side — in fewer steps.
“Now I see myself doing it without even thinking about it,” Jenkins said of his first step. “Repetition molds you and that’s what it did in the offseason, just doing that 100 times a day. Obviously I’m doing a great get-off step now.”
But to make plays, it’s about more than the first step. Carriker, for example, said a big reason he recorded a career-best 5.5 sacks in 2011 was because he read offenses better. He could diagnose a play quickly, enabling him to beat a lineman. With more attention focused on other rushers – Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan – Carriker could take advantage. His strength was occupying blockers to free up the linebackers, but his ability to rush, at least in 2011, was a nice bonus for the Redskins.
“I take a lot of my technique from him,” Jenkins said of Carriker. “A lot of times he had sacks off doing great technique. It was everything: hands, eyes, body placement, hand placement. He does everything perfect.”
Teammates say they’ve seen a change in Jenkins, who missed his rookie year after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Having played as much as he did last year, then getting a chance to work in the offseason on what he learned should help.
“He’s definitely grown, he’s more comfortable,” Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “Things he’s getting coached up on last year he’s not getting coached up on any more. The mistakes he was making during the season he’s not making anymore. I expect a big leap for him. The biggest thing is the pass rush. He had a lot to learn.”
Jenkins said it was a matter of not making “stupid mistakes.” If the tackle opposite him, for example, blocked outside then Jenkins was supposed to hit the gap he left.
“I wasn’t doing it,” he said. “There were times I’d just stand on the line and I’d cloud it up for those guys. [Cofield and Bowen] would tell me I had to grow as a player as far as applying on the field what they taught me off the field. I would know it off the field, but when I get on the field it was like I was just out there. They’re like, you know this stuff, be confident. I had to get confident.”
And Jenkins says he is confident.
“Most definitely, man,” he said. “Every time I go out there I think about everything before it happens.”
That’s what Carriker used to do. For Jenkins to have success he must prove he can do the same.
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.
The team will practice on Friday at 10 a.m. and 3:20 p.m.
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