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Redskins Defense Must Fill Big Loss After Jarvis Jenkins Tears ACL In Right Knee

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

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

ASHBURN–When Jarvis Jenkins was helped off the field early in the first quarter of the Washington Redskins’ 34-31 loss at Baltimore on Thursday, Adam Carriker was among several dozen on the sideline watching the training table out of concern for Jenkins’ welfare.

The 6-foot-4, 309-pound defensive tackle injured his right knee while trying to make a tackle on Ravens running back Ray Rice. Jenkins ended up tearing the ACL and will miss the rest of the season–a move that hurts not only Jenkins, but the entire Redskins defense.

“The guy can play ball,” Carriker, who was the starter at left defensive end but deferred to Jenkins each of the past two games because of blisters on his heels, said yesterday at Redskins Park. “I know he’s an inexperienced rookie and all that, but the guy was going to be a part of our rotation. It’s a big loss. He was playing really well.”

It’s typical for a player who is helped off the field to retreat to the sideline, be examined by athletic trainers and, if necessary, return to the locker room for treatment. With the way the Redskins swarmed around Jenkins, however, it was apparent the second-round draft pick out of Clemson had earned the respect and appreciation of his teammates.

Perhaps it was the pain, but perhaps that’s also why Jenkins was crying when the adrenaline finally wore off.

“To me, obviously, the guy can play,” Carriker said. “He’s big, he’s fast, but to me, it was just the way he played the game. He was enthusiastic. He was happy. He loved it. You could just see it.”

Coach Mike Shanahan said he knew as soon as he saw the replay that something significant had happened to Jenkins. The fears were confirmed the next morning when Jenkins underwent an MRI, which showed the tear.

Recovery typically takes at least six months. Jenkins did not attend practice yesterday, but was spotted afterward with a large metal brace on the knee and the leg bandaged.

“You have a hard time even focusing on the game when something like that occurs so early in the game,” Shanahan said. “He’s going to be an excellent player in the National Football League. [He's] everything that you look for in a person and everything you look for as a football player. It always hurts to lose a potential great player like that.”

Though Jenkins was projected to play a significant amount of time for the Redskins, Carriker’s availability lessens the blow. Aside from fellow starter Stephen Bowen, Washington has only three other defensive ends on the roster–Kedric Golston, Darrion Scott and Doug Worthington.

Depth, Shanahan said, is not a concern. One of the three will have to contribute.

“That’s the nature of the beast,” Worthington said. “That’s the game. If somebody gets banged up, somebody’s got to step up.”

Worthington, claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay on Aug. 8, is a second-year player who did not appear in a game last season. Tall, at 6-foot-5, and relatively wiry at 292 pounds, Worthington was a defensive tackle in the Buccaneers’ 4-3 defense who has had to adjust to playing on the outside of the line over the past three weeks.

“I think [being a 3-4 end is] what I was built for,” Worthington said. “[Stopping] the run is something I’m passionate about, and I’m getting so much better when it comes down to the transition to the pass rush. I think the sky’s the limit.”

Worthington played a series against the Ravens in place of Jenkins, but was not credited with a tackle. Scott, who started for Minnesota in 2005 and 2006 and is in his second year with the Redskins, played the majority of the time against Baltimore and was again working in Jenkins’ place when the defensive line went through positional drills during yesterday’s practice.

Golston, who started 13 games last season for the Redskins, has primarily served as Bowen’s backup.

Shanahan knows Jenkins can’t be replaced, saying the team “can’t find them on the street.” The waiver wire may be an option, perhaps as soon as Tuesday as teams must make their first cuts.

But for now, the team will press on.

“Things like that happen in the National Football League,” Shanahan said. “Guys get an opportunity to replace [others].”

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