Redskins' defensive line depth being put to test
Chris Baker’s versatility is serving him well.
Baker appeared in 14 games for the Redskins last season as the backup nose tackle. But Adam Carriker’s injury coupled with Jarvis Jenkins’ impending four-game suspension has opened a new opportunity for Baker – at left defensive end.
Baker’s transition to from nose tackle to end began during the offseason as the team braced itself for the possibility of losing Carriker for an extended amount of time. Jenkins won’t be able to return to the active roster until the team’s bye week and Carriker’s recovery is expected to take 4 to 5 months.
“It’s an unfortunate situation with Jarvis, but, like they say, it’s ‘Next man up,’” Baker said. “I just have to go in and step up and prove to the coaches that I’m worthy enough to start.”
Although Baker appears to be leading candidate to replace Jenkins on the left side the first four games, it’s no slam dunk. Veteran Kedric Golston is also in the mix, as are Phillip Merling, Dominique Hamilton.
“There’s nothing we can do about losing Jarvis for those four games,” said Golston, who has 43 career starts but none since 2010. “So we’re not going to sit up there and harp on that, but grow as a unit so when he comes back he’ll just fit right back in."
Baker, meantime, hopes that the reps he got during OTAs and minicamp will give him the edge he needs.
“It does help,” the 25-year-old said. “ I got a chance to see all of the different schemes and stuff but there’s still a lot that I still have to learn. The only way I’m going to get better is keep going in and getting reps.”
He continued: “I’m [versatile] enough to be able to play both positions. And I played at defensive end in college in the 3-4. The big thing is seeing the different blocking schemes and be able to adjust to them.”
Baker, who may be the most athletic of the group, said he actually prefers play end because the position provides more opportunity to make plays.
“At D-end, you’re in a lot more space,” Baker said. “At nose tackle, it’s more condensed in there. You have to be a little more athletic to play the D-end position. I prefer being out in space. I’m a good pass rusher, so it helps me rush [the quarterback] better from the defensive end position than the nose.”