- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. The inspirational message of offensive tackle Chris Samuels is indiscernible, as he calls it, to his Washington Redskins teammates on this oppressively hot morning.

"Let's get …," he yells, finishing with a word that sounds like "crup," "crump" or something to that effect.

So what is it?

"Crunk," Samuels later said with a laugh. "Let's get crunk. C-R-U-N-K."

Never heard that one.

"I'm pretty sure you haven't," said the Mobile, Ala., native, smirking. "That's a Down South slang word to get everybody fired up."

Crunk apparently is a variation on the verb "crank," as in, "I crunk the engine on my car." "Cranked up" is technically correct, but with Samuels, at least at this point in his career, it's more about emotion and energy than technical proficiency.

Well, the Redskins are crunk about Samuels and his talented cohort, Jon Jansen. The young tackles have as much ability and potential as any pair in the NFL, something coach Marty Schottenheimer recognized from the moment he seriously considered taking the Redskins job.

"Two young players, both quality, quality people, and the sky's the limit if they're able to stay injury-free," Schottenheimer said. "It's hard to find two of that quality."

Samuels and Jansen commonly are referred to as "bookend" tackles, in that the team has secured talented young players that can man premium positions often considered the offensive line's most important for the next 10 to 12 years.

Yep, 10 to 12 years.

Even though they've played together for just one season, Samuels and Jansen openly discuss spending virtually all if not all of their NFL careers on the same line. And they don't think it's too soon to talk that way.

"I most definitely think we have the talent and the smarts to keep on playing [together] as long as the good Lord keeps us healthy," Samuels said. "I wouldn't mind playing as long as I can, maybe like D-Green [cornerback Darrell Green] or something."

And Jansen is bolder.

"I've talked to Chris, and I'm not going to hide anything," Jansen said. "People have talked about, 'Well, they might be the best pair of tackles in the league.' If there's another pair of tackles that's better than us, I'd like to see them. We believe we can be that way for the next 10 to 12 years."

Such optimism starts with their outstanding conditioning. Samuels, after playing at nearly 330 pounds last season, is down to 290 or 295 about where he played at Alabama. And Jansen has been physically indestructible during his college and pro career, never missing a game.

"[Opposing defensive ends] know I'll be there Sunday no matter what," said Jansen, who set a Michigan record with 50 straight starts. "It's line up and go. And they know it's not going to be an easy day."

Samuels, 24, met the high expectations of being drafted third overall last season. Taking the starting job in minicamp and never looking back, the left tackle held off the majority of opposing right ends, generally the top pass rushers. Only a few, like Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl pick Hugh Douglas, got him, and Samuels returned the favor in the rematch.

Samuels looks like a tight end with his slim frame though Jansen laughed as he said, "Throw him the ball and you'll never mistake him for a tight end." With the weight gone, Samuels expects significant improvement.

"I feel a whole lot better, a lot quicker," Samuels said. "When guys give me their moves, I can counter-attack really quick. Versus last year, they'd give me a move and by the time they're hitting the quarterback, I'm just reacting. I'm out here full energy, compared to last year, [when] I was terrible."

Jansen, 25, is looking for his first Pro Bowl invitation after convincing many last season that he deserved to go. Former interim coach Terry Robiskie, who replaced Norv Turner with three games left, was one who thought Jansen was the NFC's top right tackle.

Continued improvement in the game's technical aspects, Jansen's forte, makes him believe he can earn the honor this season.

"This year I'm trying to make another leap in my game to take it to that other level, where guys look at the schedule and they say, 'Ah, [expletive], I've got to play Washington.' " Jansen said. "That's the next step."

Samuels has more technique to learn, but his physical skills particularly his speed and balance allow him to match up with virtually any pass rusher. He also benefits from a visible enthusiasm for playing.

"Jon is a more technician-type guy," Samuels said. "Everything that he does, his technique is just about perfect. Me, I'm just aggressive. I'm wild out there, but I get the job done."

One key change this season should be the pair's leadership role. Too young to stand out much last year on the NFL's oldest (and highest-paid) team, Samuels and Jansen now are looking to set an example.

"Last season [Jansen] was a leader, but this year he's a leader who's speaking out more vocally," Samuels said. "I think that's what it's going to take. I do my part and I know my role. I know guys like Darrell Green and Bruce Smith are going to be our big-time leaders, but a small-time leader like me, I try to uphold my role and pep the guys up."

Indeed. Everyone appears to be crunk.

"I tell you what: I'm just a pep talker," Samuels said with a laugh. "I fire guys up a lot. I talk a lot of trash out there. I tell them, 'Let's get crunk.' That's like 'get excited' or whatever. I'm real excited."

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