- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008

CANTON, Ohio | The last time Jon Jansen came to Canton, he was an indestructible Washington Redskins offensive tackle. He had never missed a practice, let alone a game during his first five seasons.

But in the 2004 Hall of Fame Game against the Denver Broncos, Jansen ruptured his left Achilles tendon and was done for the season before the return of Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs had barely begun.

Four years later, the 32-year-old Jansen is battered, but he wasn’t wary about his return to Fawcett Stadium for Sunday night’s Hall of Fame Game against the Indianapolis Colts.

“One of the hardest parts of what happened was that I was so excited to play for Coach Gibbs and [offensive line coach Joe] Bugel after those two years [in Steve Spurrier’s pass-happy scheme], and then all of a sudden I was done for the year,” Jansen said.

Jansen rehabbed and returned in 2005, persevering through that season despite breaking both thumbs. He battled a torn calf muscle for much of 2006, missing just one game, and then had his 2007 season cut short after less than 20 minutes when he broke his right leg and dislocated his right ankle in the opener against the Miami Dolphins. So Jansen made his return from a second lost season in the same place his ironman status ended.

“I have no fear of anything happening,” Jansen said. “I’m going to go out there and play as hard as I can as long as they want me to.”

Homecomings of sorts

Linebacker Marcus Washington was revved up for the Redskins’ last game with the Colts because that Oct. 22, 2006, contest at the RCA Dome was his first against Indianapolis, for whom he played his first four seasons before becoming a free agent in 2004.

Even for a preseason return Sunday night, the ever-ebullient linebacker was looking forward to facing the Colts.

“It’s still exciting any time I can see those guys I used to play with,” said Washington, who has 12 former teammates remaining on the Colts, including defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, linebacker Gary Brackett and quarterback Peyton Manning.

While Washington was pumped for an on-field reunion, rookie tight end Fred Davis was excited about having his family in the stands for his pro debut. The second-round draft pick grew up three hours from Canton in Toledo, Ohio. His immediate family was on hand Sunday night.

Veteran linebacker Khary Campbell (Toledo) and rookie free agent guard Andrew Crummey (Van Wert) also are Ohio natives. Linebacker London Fletcher and defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery are from Cleveland, but neither was in the lineup against the Colts. Fletcher was resting, and Montgomery has a broken hand.

Coaching debuts

On Sunday night, Jim Zorn became the seventh Redskins coach during the past three decades to make his preseason debut. His predecessors’ track record was a bumpy one.

Gibbs, then a first-time coach like Zorn, was a winner against the Kansas City Chiefs in 1981. Twelve years later, first-time coach Richie Petitbon’s team walloped the Cleveland Browns 41-12 but lost standout left tackle Jim Lachey to a season-ending knee injury that contributed to a 4-12 season.

Norv Turner, a third straight first-time coach, took over in 1994 and lost his preseason debut 13-11 in Buffalo when kicker Jeff Jacke missed a last-second field goal attempt. Close losses and problems at kicker typified the Turner era.

Proven winner Marty Schottenheimer’s first preseason game for Washington was a 20-0 loss in 2001 to one of his former teams, the Chiefs, indicating the difficulty the Redskins were having adjusting to his old-school style. They would start the regular season 0-5 while being outscored 144-32 before rallying to finish 8-8.

Former college coach Spurrier looked like he would have similar results in the NFL when his Redskins thumped the San Francisco 49ers 38-7 in his debut in Osaka, Japan. Trouble was that the Redskins treated the exhibition like a real game and the 49ers didn’t. By the time regular-season games began, Spurrier had showed off much of his playbook.

Two years later, Spurrier was gone, and Gibbs was back. The Hall of Famer won his preseason opener 20-17 over Denver but at the cost of losing Jansen.

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