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To Move Forward, Jarvis Jenkins Knew He Had To Look Back

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – For someone who never played last season, Jarvis Jenkins took a particular interest in correcting mistakes on Mondays.

Jenkins

The rookie defensive end was already trying to understand the technicalities of his position, and for him, what better way was there to learn what to do by seeing what he shouldn’t?

He’d sit in the film room, eyes glued to the screen, watching as defensive line coach Jacob Burney broke down what Stephen Bowen or Adam Carriker did wrong. He’d take notes, decipher what he learned and regurgitate it back to the Washington Redskins’ two starters.

“I mean, it’s kind of like when your mom and dad are like, ‘I did this. Don’t do that,’” Carriker said. “It’s something like that – ‘Just because I messed up doesn’t mean you should mess up.’”

Jenkins was a defensive tackle at Clemson, but the Redskins saw enough in him to move him outside in their 3-4 scheme. He was selected in the second round, only to tear the ACL in his right knee in the third game of the preseason.

Though he wasn’t required by the coaches to be at Redskins Park, Jenkins considered attendance mandatory. He garnered attention in training camp a year ago for the way he toyed with offensive linemen because of his explosion, quickness and agility, and he knew nothing short of an immaculate recovery would leave everyone dissatisfied.

“When I got hurt, man, everything just fell down at once, but when I thought about that, I was thinking, ‘All these people are thinking so highly of me, I just can’t crash down now once I get hurt,’” Jenkins said. “I’ve still got those high expectations even though I’m not playing. People expect me to come back fully healthy and do what I did before I got hurt.”

The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder was medically cleared to play football shortly before voluntary on-field workouts began in April. He still took it easy, understanding that any unnecessary exertion could result in a setback – or potentially a re-tearing of the ligament.

When the two-month program ended, Jenkins and nose tackle Chris Baker, himself working back from a torn quadriceps, worked with strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright to develop a conditioning plan. They’d do their rehabilitation work early in the morning and work out, then return in the late afternoon for another workout.

“[We were] doing two-a-days before we even had to come here and do two-a-days,” Baker said. “We’d bust our butt every day this summer to prepare ourselves for now.”

As was the case last year, Jenkins figures largely into the Redskins’ plans on the defensive line. As the third defensive end, he’s played often on the right side – though on Thursday, when Carriker was given the day off, he played on the left. He’s also been on the left in nickel packages, spotlighting his versatility.

“He looked good to me in the OTAs,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “He looks even better now, so him working in that rotation with Bowen and Adam, I think that depth, with him coming in on nickel and pushing the pocket – that makes us even more dangerous.”

Jenkins has, at times, appeared a step slower this preseason as compared to a year ago, but he insists his knee has fully recovered. Physically, he said, with his training tailored to his position, he’s in the best shape of his life.

That will be evident for the first time Thursday, when he’s likely to see a good number of snaps in the preseason debut against Buffalo. It will be three weeks shy of when he planted that right leg to make a tackle, only for his leg to get stuck in the turf.

On Friday, it will be back to watching film and correcting mistakes – this time, his own.

“That was the reason I came to these meetings – to learn from these guys and just be ready to go, just like I never got hurt,” Jenkins said. “All the studying you do, just apply it to your game.”

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