ASHBURN, Va. - Jarvis Jenkins was having an impressive summer in 2011. Then the second-round draft pick from Clemson tore his right ACL in Washington's third preseason game. His promising rookie season was over before it officially began.
Nearly a year later, Jenkins is back on the field and eager for the Redskins (No. 25 in the AP Pro32) preseason opener at Buffalo on Thursday. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Jenkins recovered from surgery in time to participate in all of Washington's spring workouts, but he won't be all the way back until he gets back in a game.
"It takes time just to get comfortable, get confident (enough) to be able to play full-speed on it," said defensive end Adam Carriker, who missed the 2009 season with a shoulder injury. "He's getting there, but he missed almost a year of football."
And not just any year. His rookie year.
"It was kind of hard coming from a person who really never had an injury before," Jenkins said. "My dad was always telling me adversity makes a person stronger. I rehabbed, got it real healthy so I'll never get an injury again. I most definitely feel like a rookie. I haven't played a regular season game yet. I haven't hit nobody, had no real physical contact in a year so I'm anxious to get out there and put them pads on."
Not that Jenkins' coaches and teammates are waiting for next week's game to factor him into their plans for this season.
"He was having a heck of a preseason got hurt," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. "He was a difference maker inside. Any time someone comes off an ACL, you're always hoping there's no setback and thus far there has been no setback. He's looked very impressive."
While Jenkins was pushing starting ends Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker for playing time last summer, the plan is for him to rotate in at both spots and in nickel situations.
"I know I'm going to play a good bit, I'm not worried about being a starter," Jenkins said. "It's not about being a starter. It's about contributing and having a good game consistently for the whole season. I'm a run- stopper. That's what I do. I add depth."
But that's not depth as in a career backup, depth as in a 24-year-old learning the pro game with an eye on becoming a starter soon. A starting defensive tackle at Clemson, Jenkins used his deceptive quickness to record 31 tackles for losses and 31 quarterback pressures.
Bowen said having Jenkins in the rotation will only make a front seven that made a quantum leap in 2011 even better in 2012.
"He's playing really good right now," Bowen said. "He's giving us way more depth than we've ever had. The best D-lines, they come at people in waves."
Or as nose tackle Barry Cofield said: "(Jarvis) working in that rotation with Bowen and Adam (and) him coming in on nickel and pushing the pocket, that make us even more dangerous."
Notes: Receiver Anthony Armstrong termed the sprained right shoulder he suffered toward the end of practice on Thursday "nothing serious" even though he can't lift his arm over his head. Receivers Lance Lewis (groin) and Josh Morgan (hamstring), fullback Darrel Young (hamstring) and guard Kory Lichtensteiger (knee) remain sidelined. . The Redskins will hold Fan Appreciation Day at noon on Saturday at Redskins Park.
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