The Washington Redskins entered training camp with more depth than ever. This was especially true along the defensive line and should remain that way unless they become injury riddled. Yesterday, they suffered their first blow. Chris Neild is done for the season after tearing his ACL in 11-on-11's yesterday.
The news was disappointing to players and fans that have watched Neild progress from his rookie season, through the offseason. He recorded ten tackles and two sacks last year, playing in limited time behind Barry Cofield and was having a good camp according to most.
Luckily the Redskins do have some insurance. Jarvis Jenkins, who ironically or not, tore his ACL last preseason is healthy and back to form. Both were drafted in 2011 by the Shanahans to help add size and strength to the line. This season it'll be Jenkins turn to help the club. And many expect big things.
However, Jenkins isn't the only option–and might not be the favorite. Chris Baker, a true nose tackle, has looked dominate at times throughout training camp and it bled into the Skins first preseason game. He lost some weight over the offseason (down from 350 pounds), largely because of a quad injury that shut him down last year. This was the break Chris needed.
"I worked my butt off this whole offseason to prepare myself for now. It's all starting to work out for me."
Early on at least, he seems to have his explosion back and is ready to help. Baker recorded just two tackles against Buffalo last Thursday but was a key force–alongside Jenkins–in stuffing a Bills' red zone threat. He displayed the kind of disruptiveness the Redskins desperately need with Neild now down for the season.
Opportunities like this are not a guarantee in the NFL and Baker knows this:
“It’s a big opportunity for me to step up and be the player I know I can be.”
“I hate to see Chris go down the way it happened, but when one man goes down another man needs to step up. I just have to step up and do what I can do.”
*Picture courtesy @ThePEACHShow (Thanks!)
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