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Jansen Returns to Action At Scrimmage

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For Redskins coaches, players and fans, it will be refreshing and comforting to see Jon Jansen back at right tackle this season.

But perhaps more noteworthy, at this stage of Jansen's comeback, is that Jansen has been saying that he feels as though he's in the best shape of his seven-year NFL career.

In a sense, Saturday afternoon's scrimmage at Baltimore will represent Jansen's return to competitive action for the first time since last August, when he injured his Achilles tendon in the Hall of Fame Game against Denver in Canton, Ohio.

Nicknamed "Rock" for his durability, Jansen had his streak of 80 consecutive starts ended last season when he ruptured his left Achilles' tendon in that first pre-season game.

Without one of the best right tackles in the NFL, the Redskins' offense was inconsistent in 2004 and struggled to score points.

"I can't wait to get back to a healthy football team again," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "And I think Jon is a big part of that. I think he makes a big difference, not only by playing, but also in the locker room, too.

"To lose him in the first preseason game last year was a heartbreaker for everyone last year."

What does it mean to have Jansen back?

"It means stability," Gibbs said. "He's one of the guys you can count on. He's someone you'd want with you in the foxhole if you got into a fight."

Teammate Chris Samuels said of Jansen: "I think he deserves more credit than what he gets. He's into every play, going hard, hustling. He's just a leader on this team."

Jansen, drafted in the second round (37th overall) in the 1999 draft, is now the longest-tenured Redskin. He is the only Redskin to have been with the team since its last playoff run in the 1999 postseason.

It was difficult for Jansen to deal with the injury at first.

"I would come in and watch film, but I did not like coming in and watching it when other players were doing it because I didn't want to see someone else in my spot. I would come in and watch film of our team and try to stay sharp in the game of football."

As Jansen looked to begin a new string of consecutive starts, the return of his skills and leadership to the offensive line this season could go a long way toward helping the offense find the consistency that eluded it in 2004.

"I'm feeling more and more comfortable every day and I'm real happy to be back," Jansen said.

Said running back Clinton Portis of Jansen: "He has come back really healthy. I think he is excited to be back on the field. There are a bunch of guys out on the field with a lot to prove. Jon is one of those guys."

Ironically, when Jansen was injured last summer, it happened when he became tangled up with Denver's Marco Coleman, a former Pro Bowler with the Redskins.

In terms of his absence from games a year ago, Jansen says it was "weird" seeing somebody else out there at right tackle.

Most often, it was 19-year veteran Ray Brown. Kenyatta Jones and Mark Wilson also earned spot starts at right tackle for the Redskins in 2004.

As he prepares for his seventh season in the NFL, the talented right tackle from Michigan knows that he doesn't want to come out of the lineup again, even for one snap.

Redskins coaches are hoping right along with him.

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