This offseason, linebacker Brian Orakpo‘s return from injury is garnering much of the attention on the defensive side of the ball for the Washington Redskins. Orakpo, of course, tore his pectoral muscle last season in Week 2 against the St. Louis Rams and spent the rest of the season on injured reserve.
Clearly, his loss was felt.
The Redskins ended 2012 with the 30th ranked defense against the pass, as the defense struggled mightily to gain pass pressure, recording 32 sacks, which tied for 23rd. A healthy Orakpo returning to the defense will no doubt help improve the team’s woeful pass rush from last year.
However, the focus here will not be Orakpo. Generally speaking, Redskins fans are familiar with the production a healthy Orakpo can provide. A more intriguing question is the form of Jarvis Jenkins.
Of course, the 315-pound defensive end was a training camp revelation in 2011. Fast, powerful and explosive, the 2011 second-round draft pick out of Clemson was an absolute force on the defensive line during the preseason. Often described as “unblockable,” during practice, Jenkins showed all the attributes of being an anchor for the Redskins’ defensive line for years to come.
Sadly, it hasn’t worked out that way. At least, not yet.
Jenkins missed the entire 2011 season after tearing his ACL in the third preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. Last season, Jenkins returned and made his first career start in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He would record 25 tackles as a regular part of the defensive line rotation. Still, Jenkins clearly did not have the burst and explosion we saw in the 2011 preseason.
But we might in 2013.
Yes, now in his second year after ACL surgery, Jenkins could be primed to have that breakout season. And a breakout season from Jenkins combined with the return of a healthy Orakpo would go a long way to the Redskins’ defensive unit looking far different than it did one year ago.