For the last five years, when the Redskins and New York Giants met, the Jon Jansen-Michael Strahan matchup was always one to watch. The Redskins' right tackle would have some epic battles with the Giants' Pro Bowl defensive end--with Strahan often commenting that Jansen was his toughest foe.
With Jansen out for the season with an Achilles injury, the Redskins have turned to third-year player Kenyatta Jones at right tackle this season.
It will be mostly Jones' responsibility to match up against the imposing Strahan, who has 15 career sacks against the Redskins and 114 overall. It will also be Jones' responsibility to protect lefty Mark Brunell's blind side.
"[Strahan] is one of the greats in the NFL and I just have to go out and give my best effort," Jones said on Wednesday. "He's relentless. And that's what I have to be: relentless."
Added head coach Joe Gibbs: "Our guys look at the film and I think they know how hard it's going to be. Strahan's a phenomenal player. He's going to be playing over there against Kenyatta, and I think Kenyatta knows it and he's going to have to get ready. We're trying to get him the best looks out here in practice.
"But you can't give those kinds of looks when the bullets are flying. It's a big assignment for Kenyatta."
Jones signed with the Redskins late in the 2003 season, but was placed on injured reserve after suffering a weight room injury. A year earlier, he started 11 of 13 games at right tackle with the New England Patriots. He was the Patriots' fourth-round draft pick in 2001.
With the Redskins, he's already impressed coaches and teammates with how seamlessly he's stepped in for Jansen.
"Michael Strahan's a great player, but Kenyatta can hold his own," tight end Walter Rasby said.
Assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel: "Kenyatta is playing consistent football for us. He had a few hurries in the last game, but overall he played well. The whole line is sticking together and playing very well right now."
Jones was among the standouts from Sunday's season-opening win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The pass protection units did not yield a sack in the game. And with five minutes to go, the Redskins offense wore down Tampa Bay's imposing defense by running out the clock. Jones and the offensive line played a key role in that.
"We just grind day-in and day-out," Jones said. "That's just our philosophy. We want to be dominant and we're working hard to be dominant. I don't think there's another team that works as hard as we do, and we proved that last week. And in the fourth quarter, we did what we had to do to put away the game."