FENNO: With suspension complete, Jarvis Jenkins yearning to help Redskins

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The smile couldn’t hide.

Under blinding sunlight, Jarvis Jenkins stood on a small rise overlooking the the practice fields at Redskins Park on Tuesday afternoon as if he’d never been gone.

Drops of sweat merged into small rivers that trickled down his forehead and into his No. 99 jersey. The big man didn’t mind. He was finally back.

The uncomfortable reality of the last month seeped through the easy grins. While the defensive lineman served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, opponents shredded the Redskins’ defense that ranks second-to-last in the league after allowing 1,762 yards.

Washington Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins (99) hits Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (8) on the helmet as he prepares to throw during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Enlarge Photo

Washington Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins (99) hits Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback ... more >

“It kind of felt like I had something to do with us losing,” Jenkins said. “Obviously I made a dumb mistake that hurt our team.”

All the 25-year-old could do was watch. The helpless feeling is one that’s all too familiar.

The last two and a half years left him wondering what went wrong. Jenkins avoided injury and trouble at Clemson. But after the Redskins picked him 41st overall in the 2011 draft, he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in the second preseason game and missed the entire season. This July, the NFL suspended him after failing a drug test that Jenkins claimed was caused by a tainted over-the-counter dietary supplement he purchased at General Nutrition Corporation.

Entering his third season, the man expected to be a long-term fixture on the defensive line has just 16 games of regular-season experience. Adversity, self-inflicted or otherwise, is becoming familiar. So, too, is the search for redemption.

On Tuesday, Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson, also suspended four games, practiced for the first time since finishing their punishments. Nothing could pry the grin off Jenkins. Not the 80-degree day or extended conditioning drills that left him looking as if he stepped out of the shower.

“It’s like I’m a rookie all over again,” Jenkins said.

Sitting out for a mistake he still can’t believe he made is bad enough. But watching the Redskins struggle to an 1-3 start entering the bye week thanks, in part, to a battered defense? That hurt in a way no league punishment ever could.

Forget that one man isn’t going to transform the troubled defense. Each of the 112 points the Redskins allowed worsened the sting of his mistake.

Jenkins knew he could help. Believed the results could’ve been different if he was on the field. Instead, he watched games on television at home in Ashburn or during a quick visit with his parents, Larry and Lica, in Columbia, S.C., and exchanged texts with teammates like defensive tackle Chris Baker. Jenkins didn’t want to be alone. That’s when negative thoughts crept in.

Lica’s words burned in her son’s mind: “Obstacles are what you’ve got to overcome to become great.” He’s close to his parents, who played key roles in helping him through the emotional recovery from the knee injury and, once again, tried to focus his attention on moving forward. But the last month felt like a flashback to that awful year.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

    Nathan Walker’s NHL dreams send him around the world

  • Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon, third from left, smiles as he warms up with his teammates who were were wearing t-shirts in support of him for the All Star game before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he’s been Nats’ MVP

  • Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter speaks during a media availability in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    LOVERRO: Suck-up Buck Showalter needs history lesson

  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Celebrities In The News
  • This image from video released by Funny Or Die shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people aged 18 to 34. The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing TV talk show titans like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel for an online audience. (AP Photo/Funny Or Die)

    Obama’s ‘Ferns’ interview gets Emmy nod

  • ** FILE ** In this Nov. 12, 2013, file photo, actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama

  • Dinesh D'Souza's "America: Imagine the World Without Her" got promising reviews from two major Hollywood publications. It opens nationwide Wednesday.

    D’Souza on Costco debacle: ‘It was really bizarre’