Jon Jansen missed the camaraderie most of all. He missed joking with fellow offensive linemen. He missed the acerbic tongue of assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel, who works primarily with the offensive line. And he missed the bonding that occurs among teammates, even during practice.
With the start of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) last week, Jansen returned to the Redskins Park practice fields. It was the first official series of practices that Jansen participated in since his ruptured Achilles injury last August.
Following Thursday's practice, Jansen said he felt no lingering aftereffects from the injury and the subsequent surgery.
"It feels 100 percent," Jansen said. "It's not even an issue. It's like [the injury] never happened."
Jansen suffered the Achilles injury in the Redskins' first pre-season game last year, the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio against the Denver Broncos. He was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter.
Long known for his durability, it was difficult for Jansen to be apart from the game. He had started 80 consecutive regular-season games before the injury.
Jansen rehabbed the injury through the 2004 season and was cleared to participate in voluntary off-season workouts in late March. Last week was the first league-sanctioned practice sessions for the Redskins.
"It felt great to be part of the guys and part of the camaraderie again," Jansen said last Thursday. "You're part of the jokes. You're part of being around the guys. That's what you miss the most."
This offseason, Jansen has watched personnel officials assemble an offense that appears to have greater depth than last season.
On the offensive line, the expected starters are Jansen, Randy Thomas, free agent pickup Casey Rabach, Derrick Dockery and Chris Samuels. The backups include veterans Ray Brown, Lennie Friedman and Cory Raymer and second-year players Mark Wilson and Jim Molinaro, among others.
"Last year, we had some injuries and that really affected the team," he said. "This year, if injuries happen, I don't think we'll be as affected. We've really solidified some positions with some great depth."