RICHMOND, Va. -- They are used to this by now, the Washington Redskins, as they rank among the top teams in the league over the past couple of years in the dubious category of drug suspensions. The latest, announced Friday, is a four-game suspension for defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, who becomes the eighth Redskins player to be suspended for a drug violation in the last three years.
The whys, the wherefores, the excuses and the denials are all a matter of public record. Jenkins said in a statement that he believes the banned substance was in a supplement he took that didn't list any banned substances on its label. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said in a post-practice news conference that each of the drug suspensions is different and that the team is "trying to do our due diligence to make it right." Whatever. A lot of guys cheat, on a lot of teams, in every sport. Some get caught while most don't. The Redskins are having a bad run with drug suspensions, some of which are for performance-enhancers (as Jenkins' is) and some of which are not. Make of that what you will.
What it means in this case is that they become even more short-handed in the pass rush for the first four games of the 2013 season. They're already without outside linebacker Rob Jackson for the first four games, due to Jackson's own drug suspension. Starting defensive end Adam Carriker, whose place Jenkins was supposed to take on the defensive line, is out four-to-five months following the latest surgery on his right leg. The return of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo is obviously a big boost to the pass rush, but he's not likely to solve all of the problems himself. While Jenkins may not yet have shown the impact-player ability the team believes he ultimately will, the Redskins were counting on him to make a big step forward and a contribution in 2013. He now will have to wait until at least their fifth game to do that.
In the meantime, Kedric Golston likely steps into a starting defensive end role, which is less than ideal, and Chris Baker can play some end as well as nose tackle. Those guys could hold it down against the Eagles, Packers, Lions and Raiders to start the season, but defensive line is an area at which depth is vital and teams like to rotate players to keep them as fresh as possible. With Carriker out and Jenkins now down for four games, that rotation gets a lot thinner.
Most of the question marks for the Redskins this season, at least if you subscribe to the belief that quarterback Robert Griffin III will be fine, are on the defensive side of the ball. The first couple of days of training camp have produced more defensive questions than answers.