As I stepped out to go to lunch earlier this afternoon, I was greeted in the lobby by the familiar smiling face of defensive end Jarvis Jenkins.
Jenkins recently observed the six-month anniversary (Aug. 25) of his ACL tear against the Baltimore Ravens, which ended his rookie season prematurely. But before that–and even after that–he has been called one of the top offseason additions of the Shanahan era, and looked to have the makings of a dominant defensive end.
That impression was forged from the first moment of contact with the Washington-metropolitan area, in his draft day telephone press conference.
“I’m the kind of guy that does dirty work,” he told the media, matter-of-factly. “I don’t care what they make me do. If they want me to get on two knees and just sit there, I will do it. I’m all about winning games.”
And Jenkins has maintained that glass-three-quarters-full attitude every day since. When his stock was rising in camp, he downplayed his reviews and praised the coaches and veterans around him.
When he suffered his injury in the third preseason game, he “bragged” that it was the cleanest tear the surgeon had ever seen, and he’d be 100 percent healthy before the 2012 season. When teammate Kory Lichtensteiger went down with ACL and MCL tears in Week 6, it was Jenkins that was there to console and motivate the veteran.
And as his condition improved at the end of the 2011 season, Jenkins said that if not for his pesky injured reserve status, he was ready to play.
As I chatted with Jenkins in the lobby, linebackers coach Bob Slowik walked by and teased him that he couldn’t give interviews until he played some games. Jenkins laughed and replied that he’s not too far off.
To be fair, knee injuries can be fickle, especially when they’re attached to players the size of linemen. But through hard work and diligent rehab, Jenkins has cut his expected recovery time down significantly.
In the six months since his surgery Jenkins has only taken one week of vacation from the gym and trainer’s room, visiting Miami after the season ended in January. While players are not required to visit the facilities when recovering from injury, Jenkins refused to abandon his teammates while they were still competing.
He said that he expects to be full-go for football activities before players report back in mid-April.
He said that he’s already back to running on turf, and has been putting in serious time benching and doing squats. He told me his max squat before his injury was 430 pounds, and he’s already back in the range of 375.
Most importantly, he said that he feels really good for the first time since August.
“I’m gonna be ready to go,” he said with a knowing smile. “I just can’t wait to play some football.”