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Loss Of Jarvis Jenkins Hampers Defense

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

This story appeared on page B1 of Saturday’s Free Lance-Star

WASHINGTON–Jarvis Jenkins was supposed to play a big role for the Washington Redskins this season.

Instead, the 6-foot-4, 309-pound rookie will leave a huge hole on the defensive line.

Jenkins confirmed yesterday morning via his Twitter account that he tore the ACL in his right knee–an injury that took place just over 4 minutes into the Redskins’ 34-31 preseason loss at Baltimore on Thursday.

The injury, which requires at least six months of rehabilitation following surgery, means Jenkins will miss the entire season.

“Redskin fans thanks for the support I love you all unfortunately it is a ACL tear ” Jenkins posted after having an MRI on the knee. “I’m gonna work harder than I’ve ever worked to get back I love this game too much.”

Jenkins, drafted in the second round out of Clemson in April, was already well on his way to becoming a force for the Redskins. A reserve in the first game against Pittsburgh, Jenkins stepped up and started in place of Adam Carriker each of the past two weeks when Carriker was out of action because of blisters on his feet.

Jenkins was trying to cut back to make a tackle on Ravens running back Ray Rice with 11:15 remaining in the first quarter when his knee gave out. He was helped to the sideline after several minutes, and when his knee was being looked at by athletic trainers, nearly half the team surrounded Jenkins and looked on.

The Redskins were high on his performance and his potential. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett spoke Monday about Jenkins’ abilities, which, once he learned how to adapt to the professional game and use proper leverage, could make him a top player.

“He’s powerful and he can run and he’s smart,” Haslett said. “Once in a while, like every other young guy, you’ll have a lapse for a couple plays, but he gets back up on them. He’s a great addition to our football team.”

With Carriker and Jenkins at left end, Barry Cofield at nose tackle and Stephen Bowen and Kedric Golston, a starter for 13 games last year, on the right side, the Redskins had a defensive line that seemed capable of stopping the run while still providing adequate pressure in the passing game.

They demonstrated that against Baltimore by hitting quarterback Joe Flacco on seven occasions, and Cofield and linebacker Thaddeus Gibson each tipped a pass near the line of scrimmage.

The Redskins also had four sacks.

“We did a good job getting pressure with the front four in our pressure packages, and I think that’s a tribute to the guys working hard and getting their timing right,” said linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who dropped Flacco for a 3-yard loss late in the first quarter.

Washington held Pittsburgh to 186 yards of offense in the first preseason game Aug. 12 and Indianapolis to 150 yards last week, although reserves were the featured players on offense in both games.

The Ravens provided much more of a challenge Thursday behind Flacco and the explosive receiving combination of Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans, each of whom had a touchdown reception.

But the Redskins’ defense answered something that couldn’t be said much last season, when it was second-to-last in the league in yards allowed per game. Washington surrendered 452 total yards Thursday, but only 200 of those came in the first half, when the Redskins’ top defense played, and 116 were on four passing plays.

“Our receivers did a really good job of getting open quickly,” Flacco said. “They just made things happen and it was a matter of getting back in the game.”

In addition to Carriker and Jenkins, Washington played the game without linebacker London Fletcher and cornerback Josh Wilson, each of whom has battled groin injuries over the past two weeks. Their return, coupled with a fully healthy Oshiomogho Atogwe, who played his first game against the Ravens but was limited, should further strengthen the defense.

As for Jenkins, it appears Darrion Scott, who replaced him on Thursday, will have a greater role going forward. Scott, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound veteran in his second season with the Redskins, played in only two games last season but was a starter for Minnesota in 2005 and 2006.

Doug Worthington, who was claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay on Aug. 8, is the only other defensive end on the roster. Washington will likely look to see who else is available, even though it must make its first cut to 80 players by Tuesday.

There will be growing pains during the course of the preseason. With just one week remaining before preparation for the Sept. 11 opener against the New York Giants begins, evaluation and improvement will be important.

“I think we made a lot of mistakes and we almost won,” said cornerback Kevin Barnes. “This is the best team that I have been on since I’ve gotten [to the NFL]. There is such a different attitude and mindset. We’re getting better all the time.”

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