RICHMOND—Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins came into training camp fighting for his football life. Even though he has started 19 games over the past two seasons after missing all of his rookie season with a torn ACL, he hasn’t lived up to his status of being a second-round pick (41st overall).
While he has done a reasonably good job against the run, Jenkins has not been able to get pressure on the quarterback. He has just two career sacks, both of them coming last year. Although it’s true that 3-4 defensive ends aren’t supposed to rack up high sack totals you would expect a player to be able to post a few more sacks accidentally.
It can take a full season to recover from a torn ACL so nobody was that hard on him for his subpar play in 2012, when he started 14 games after Adam Carriker went out with an injury. But expectations were higher last year. Jenkins didn’t do himself any favors by getting hit with a four-game PED suspension and his season never really got rolling after that.
The pressure on Jenkins ratcheted up this this offseason. With getting after the quarterback becoming an even more important part of the defense, the team signed Jason Hatcher, who had 10.5 sacks for the Cowboys last year. They also re-signed Chris Baker a three-year contract with a $4 million signing bonus. Baker, who came into the league as an undrafted free agent, has only one career sack but he is has been more disruptive than Jenkins and is considered to be on the rise.
Jenkins' contract is up after this season and he will have to raise his level of play if he wants to get a good deal either in Washington or elsewhere.
So far, it looks like Jenkins has met the challenge. Given some more chances to take snaps with both Hatcher and Stephen Bowen on the PUP list, Jenkins has had a good camp.
“I think he’s done a good job,” said Gruden. “I think really he’s improved his pass rush considerably, just that I’ve seen since I’ve been here. He’s done a really good job of understanding pass rush angles and getting push in the pocket and still playing the run, so Jarvis has been doing a very good job. [Defensive Line Coach] Jacob [Burney] and [Outside Linebackers] Coach [Brian] Baker, you can see the effect that they’ve had on him as far as not just playing around but getting upfield and working his hands, getting back to the quarterback and the stunts and all that good stuff. Jarvis has done well.”
Jenkins probably isn’t on the bubble as far as making the roster but there is some serious competition at defensive end. Hatcher and Baker are locks. There are probably three more roster spots and they have Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Clifton Geathers, Doug Worthington and, if healthy, Bowen fighting for them. Jenkins probably survives but he is making sure of that with a solid camp performance.