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How Will the Washington Redskins Deal with Defensive Line Losses?

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How Will the Washington Redskins Deal with Defensive Line Losses?
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First, it was Adam Carriker undergoing a third surgery on his right quad.  Then, a four-game suspension was announced for Jarvis Jenkins after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).  Where will the Washington Redskins turn to fill the gaping void at left defensive end?

What was once seemingly a position of strength is now possibly the Redskins' greatest weakness.

Carriker was working his way back from a problematic quadriceps injury, but he was never able to gain full range of motion in his leg.  The 29-year-old former first-round pick is sidelined for an estimated four to five months while he recovers, most likely ending his 2013 season.

2011 second-round pick Jarvis Jenkins was the heir apparent to the position, turning heads during his rookie training camp.  After an ACL tear kept him out his rookie year, Jenkins performed well last year but was not able to reach his peak as a pass-rushing threat.

On July 26, it was announced that Jenkins was being suspended by the NFL for testing positive for a banned substance.

In response to his suspension, Jenkins released a statement acknowledging his mistake and apologizing for hurting his team.

When I learned that I tested positive for a substance that is banned under the NFL policy, I was shocked and confused. 

It’s an obscure substance that I’ve never even heard of, and I still don’t know how it got into my body. My only guess is that it came from one of the supplements I was taking around the time of the test, even though none of them listed anything banned.

I’m very sorry for the effect of this situation on my teammates and coaches, and I also apologize to my family and all Redskins fans.  I will be very, very ready to contribute as soon as I get back for Game 5.

Jenkins' suspension will be the eighth drug suspension the Redskins have suffered since 2011, tying them for the most in the league.  Rob Jackson will also miss the first four games this season due to testing positive for PEDs.

Whatever Jenkins' excuse, the bottom line is that he will miss the first four weeks of the regular season.  Fortunately, he'll be activated heading into the bye week and will hopefully be ready for the Week 6 showdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

This was expected by many to be Jenkins' breakout year after he worked hard during the offseason to improve his technique and develop a quicker first step off the snap.  He will still be able to practice with the team until the roster is finalized on August 31, but he will not be eligible to return to practice until the day after the Redskins' Week 4 matchup against the Oakland Raiders.

For head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen, it's time to prove they have developed adequate depth to stay competitive over the first month of the regular season.

The next man up in this situation is seven-year veteran Kedric Golston.

A capable rotation player, Golston has played in 98 games and started 43, all with the Redskins.  Golston saw significant action in the latter half of the season, averaging 26.6 snaps (37 percent of all defensive snaps) over the last eight games of the season, including playoffs.

Pro Football Focus (subscription required) gave Golston a grade of minus-2.6 over the regular season, just under the minus-2.4 mark they gave Jarvis Jenkins.  While Golston may not have the upside of a player like Jenkins, he may not be the downgrade many are anticipating.

In a press conference on July 26, Mike Shanahan had the following to say about Kedric Golston:

Kedric plays extremely well. I like him, the way he fights, the type of athletic ability he has.  He's a guy who never gives up.  When he does play, he always plays well...You want him on your football team in these situations.

After Golston, Chris Baker looks to see significant time in the rotation.

Baker will be sliding over from his natural position of nose tackle.  While only on the field for 21 percent of defensive snaps, he was given a plus-4.4 rating (subscription required) by Pro Football Focus for his play during the regular season.

Defensive end provides Baker a chance to show his versatility and mobility.  "I like end," Baker said, according to the Washington Times.  “I’m very playing comfortable at end. I feel like I could pass rush pretty good."

Once Jarvis Jenkins returns, it's possible Baker could see time at both defensive end and nose tackle.  In the meantime, Chris Neild, dubbed the Pocono Punisher by Thom Loverro, will likely serve as the primary backup to nose tackle Barry Cofield.

The defensive line situation is less than ideal early in training camp, but it looks as though the Redskins have built adequate depth to deal with this scenario.  Keep an eye on Golston and Baker in training camp and preseason games to see if they are ready to handle the pressure come Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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