By this time last summer, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins consistently was flashing during practice. His power at the point of attack and his explosiveness were clear. He impressed coaches so much that some considered the team’s best defensive lineman.
Jenkins, though, tore the ACL in his right knee in the third preseason game and missed his entire rookie season. His return in 2012 was highly anticipated by the organization because of how good he looked early last preseason. Jenkins, one might say, serves as the second-round draft pick the Redskins traded to the Rams in March to move up to get their franchise quarterback.
There’s a problem, though. Jenkins has not been as effective during this training camp as he was last year. That’s understandable. He’s coming off knee surgery and missed a lot of practice time. But his power and ability to reestablish the line of scrimmage aren’t noticeable like they were a year ago. This supposed defensive upgrade from Jenkins’ return is not reality right now.
“I thought that all throughout OTAs he struggled from the standpoint of staying on his feet,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Wednesday. “He was on the ground too much. I thought that at the start of camp he kind of started that way and then maybe last week he came out of it.”
Added defensive line coach Jacob Burney: “I see what I need to see in Jarvis. This guy is busting his tail, from that standpoint, so I see what I need to see every day to know that he’s going to be exactly where we want him to be to help us win a bunch of games.”
Burney said Jenkins “is going to be” back in form. Future tense. In other words, he’s not there yet.
Haslett, at least, sees evidence that progression is occurring quickly
“To me, the last three days he has looked like himself last year,” Haslett said. “He really sprung off the ball. He is pushing off his leg and he is athletic. When you miss a year it is hard, but I think he has worked through that. He has worked hard in the weight room and he has worked hard on the field. The last three days have been outstanding.”
At the very least, it’s ambitious at this point to assume Jenkins is going to be the force this season that he was last summer. It’s not a sure thing. Haslett and Burney expressed confidence that he’ll get there, but this is worth monitoring closely. The preseason games, starting with tonight against Buffalo, will be an interesting measure.