Jansen says starting job is his

It would be easy to write off Jon Jansen’s long career with the Washington Redskins as history. After all, he’s 33, has battled injuries the past few seasons and was benched in August.

Just don’t try to tell that to the brawny offensive tackle from Michigan. Only 15 players, mostly MVPs, Hall of Famers and Pro Bowl picks, have lasted longer than 11 seasons with the Redskins. Jansen already has spent 10 with Washington.

“I’m going to be here this year, and you can put a Pro Bowl by my name,” Jansen said. “That’s what I’m preparing for.”

And Jansen is prepared for another summer challenge from Stephon Heyer, a free agent pickup and/or a draft pick.

“It should be a competition,” Jansen said after his Wednesday morning workout at Redskin Park. “But I also want it to be known that I WANT that job. I believe it’s mine, and I’m not letting it go. I’m going to make it obvious that it’s MY JOB. There are some doubters. I want to prove that not only are they wrong this year, but that they’re wrong next year.”

That sounds like a lot of bravado given the obstacles Jansen faces. Right tackles rarely get chosen for the Pro Bowl, and even offensive line coach Joe Bugel (a Jansen supporter) has said the Redskins need to find a young tackle.

But Jansen is very serious - regaining the job when Heyer hurt a shoulder in Week 3 and helping the Redskins become the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack at midseason haven’t erased all the sting from getting benched.

“Whenever I wasn’t playing before, it was because I couldn’t even walk,” Jansen said. “It just took me a little while to figure out what it was that [coach Jim Zorn] wanted from me. Once I figured that out, I was able to produce. Not a lot of times in my career have people said, ‘I’m not sure he can do it.’ To suppress a lot of those doubts was very satisfying.

“It created a good feeling that I hadn’t had in a while. There’s no point in being worried about what [the Redskins] are going to do. I can’t control that. All I can control is working as hard as I possibly can, and if they want me to be here, this is where I want to be.”

And since signing bonus acceleration makes him more expensive to cut than keep, it’s likely Jansen will remain with the team for his 11th season.

But Bugel said recently that Jansen wore down late last season after fighting so hard to come back from a broken leg and dislocated ankle suffered in the 2007 opener.

“Jon played with a lot of hurt last year,” Bugel said. “Coming off that surgery, the wear and tear caught up to him a little bit. It was a long training camp. It was a grinding year. He may have run out of gas a little bit, but knowing that guy… he’ll try to play forever.”

But the Redskins’ poor second half, the sprained knee he suffered in Week 14 and the organization’s desire to look for alternatives at right tackle prompted Jansen to start working out earlier. His body fat, which was at 23 percent when last season ended, was at 18 percent when he reported to Redskin Park on Monday for the official start of offseason workouts.

“The injury I had the year before was a very difficult one to come back from,” Jansen said. “Some people didn’t think I would come back at all. A lot of people thought that it might be more of a two-year recovery. I tried to fight through everything and did the best I could, but I wasn’t 100 percent.

“So I took a different approach this [winter]. I’ve [usually] taken off until the end of February or the beginning of March to try to let my body heal up. When you take that time off, your injuries heal up, but you really get out of shape. I didn’t want to start from zero again. So I eased into workouts a lot sooner than I had in the past and it shows. This is as good a shape as I’ve been in at this time of year.”

About the Author
David Elfin

David Elfin

David Elfin has been following Washington-area sports teams since the late 1960s. David began his journalism career at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., history) and Syracuse University (M.S., telecommunications). He wrote for the Bulletin (Philadelphia), the Post-Standard (Syracuse) and The Washington Post before coming to The Washington Times in 1986. He has covered colleges, the Orioles ...

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