- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Jon Jansen talks like a middle-aged man about his eight-acre plot of land in western Loudoun County, Va. He's a regular Bob Villa, telling how he installed a hardwood floor and built a raised garden plot this summer or about the way he and his wife, Martha, plant trees every year.

Ahem. Every year since they've lived there.

"Well, we've done it for a year or so," the 24-year-old conceded with a laugh.

Jansen isn't alone in getting carried away with his apparent maturity. As the Washington Redskins' rookie right tackle last season, Jansen stepped in so seamlessly and played so well in starting all 18 games that NFL observers and opponents, as well as Redskins coaches and teammates, now view him as a virtual veteran.

"I think last year a lot of people forgot Jon Jansen was a rookie," Redskins passing coordinator Terry Robiskie said. "Jon stepped up and had a tremendous year."

Said Jansen: "That's what I wanted to accomplish throughout last year. I knew I was a rookie and I was going to make some mistakes, but I didn't want people to say, 'It's OK to make that mistake because he's a rookie.' It's not OK. I wanted people to look at me like I had been here for a couple of years."

Jansen has a track record for such precocity and reliability, having set a University of Michigan record by starting 50 straight games.

Do the math. Most college programs only play 11 games each season; the good ones also go to a bowl. Michigan went to postseason games each of Jansen's four years and squeezed in two extra contests. Jansen not only was virtually injury-free, he was talented enough to start as a redshirt freshman.

Jansen came to the Redskins as a second-round draft pick (37th overall) in 1999 and hasn't missed a game or practice since. Add the fact that he never missed a practice in Ann Arbor, and you've got a regular Iron Man.

"I've always hated seeing somebody in my spot," Jansen explained. "When I get a hold of that spot I want to keep it as my spot… . Plus it's playing football. So it's not like some people would say, 'I'd like a day off from my job.' I don't see it as a job necessarily. I'm going out and playing a game, and I'll take that chance any time I get."

Such ideals govern Jansen, extending to the country lifestyle he now enjoys. Jansen's homestead is in Purcellville, Va. (about 10 miles west of Leesburg), far enough outside the Beltway to have no access to cable television. He drives a Ford pickup with a 7.3-liter diesel engine under the hood and Hank Williams CDs in the cab and brags that when he forgets to cut his yard he's simply "growing hay."

All this from a guy who grew up in the Detroit suburbs.

"My grandpa had a farm in southern Indiana," Jansen said. "We used to spend vacations and some summers down there. I just always enjoyed it down there more than in the city… . Some people are born and they don't like meat. I just like living in the country. I like everything about it. I don't know what it is."

Jansen also is an avid outdoorsman. He can explain the differences between fishing the Detroit River and the Potomac, and he can't wait to take his two young dogs, Rocket (a yellow lab) and Roscoe (a chocolate lab), pheasant and duck hunting for the first time.

"I just had them trained last year," Jansen said. "I've been working with them a lot this summer, keeping them in shape, working on commands. We'll see when we get out there, see if they just forget everything I've taught them."

Not if they follow their owner's lead. Jansen learned the NFL game quickly and thoroughly last year, establishing a daunting precedent for rookie left tackle Chris Samuels.

"Whenever [Samuels] asks me questions I'm always eager to help him out," Jansen said, although he admitted: "I can help him out in terms of things that come up as a first-year player, but past that I have no idea. I'm still learning as we go, too."

Jansen actually was at Redskin Park the day Samuels was drafted and introduced, giving many observers reason to predict a strong friendship and lengthy pairing for the team's offensive bookends. However, Jansen has yet to take Samuels, a longtime fisherman and seafood aficionado, to the place he most wants to go the local fishing hole.

"He's treating me like a rookie right now," Samuels said with a laugh. "[Actually] he's been a big influence on me. I just watch him every day. His technique is perfect. I'm going to try to learn as much as possible from him."

Jansen claims he was too busy to take Samuels fishing and it's easy to imagine Jansen making plenty of trips to Home Depot to supply his summer projects. Nonetheless, even though Jansen appears to be making a quick transition to middle-aged homebody, he remains young at heart.

"I still feel like a young guy," Jansen said. "There are guys obviously who have been on this team for 18, 19 years, and I'm going onto my second. I just hope that I'm fortunate enough to be in their spot one day. Hopefully 18, 19 years from now we can still be talking like this."

Note Darrell Green is unlikely to play in Friday's preseason game at Tampa Bay, coach Norv Turner said. The funeral for Green's father is tomorrow.

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