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Training Camp Preview: Defensive Line

Posted Jul 17, 2012

With training camp set to begin next week, it's time to preview the competition by unit. Next, we break down the Redskins' defensive line.

Earlier this offseason, Redskins.com staff reviewed the 2011 play of the nose tackles and defensive ends. With training camp set to begin next week, it's time to preview the current state of the Redskins' defensive line.

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One of the few bright spots on the team throughout last season was the consistent play of the Redskins' front-seven.  That success started at the line of scrimmage, with a dominant defensive line.

Only one season removed from a base 4-3 scheme, the line made major strides with the addition of Barry Cofield at nose tackle and Stephen Bowen at defensive end. 

On the season the unit was credited with 218 tackles, 25 for a loss, and 17.5 sacks.

Satisfied with the line's production, the Redskins retained several key members of the rotation and added depth in free agency.  If everyone remains healthy, this group should look very familier in 2012.

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ROSTER SUBTRACTION(S):

None.

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KEY ADDITION(S):

Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins (IR).

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CURRENT STATE OF THE UNIT:

With an average age of 27 years, 3 months, the Redskins' four-man rotation featuring Barry Cofield, Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen and Jarvis Jenkins has many productive seasons ahead.

Last season was Cofield's first as a 3-4 nose tackle.  Despite learning on the job, he led all NFL nose tackles with nine passes batted at the line of scrimmage.

Bowen played through a torn ligament in his knee for the final stretch of the season, and should be fully healthy after participating in offseason workouts. 

Carriker experienced his best season as a pro in 2011, and earned a new contract with the team. Even with Jenkins's return, Carriker will have his spot in the defensive rotation.

Without taking a regular season snap, Jenkins was hailed by some experts as the best player in the Redskins' 2011 draft class.  Fully recovered from his ACL injury, Jenkins should be fun to watch develop as a pro.

Kedric Golston had his 2011 season cut short by a knee injury suffered against the Dolphins in Week 10.  After diligent rehab work, Golston was cleared by doctors and re-signed this offseason, setting up his seventh season with the Redskins.

Even as a late-round draft pick, Chris Neild beat out veteran players to seize the reserve nose tackle job last season.  Not only is he adequate coming off the bench, he is also a key blocker on special teams returns.

Darrion Scott, Kentwan Balmer, Chris Baker and Doug Worthington were all retained this offseason to provide depth behind the starting squad.  With everyone healthy, these players will need to prove themselves in order to make the final cuts.

Undrafted free agent Delvin Johnson provides the team with another athletic option in the middle of the defensive line.  Johnson stands at 6-3, 321 pounds, but was an accomplished basketball player in high school.

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Cohesion should be the key in training camp, as all three starters and their backups return.

Year two in the system should help players like Cofield, Bowen and Jenkins, while Carriker sets out to prove that his strong 2011 season was no fluke.

Look for depth competition to play itself out over the duration of camp and preseason games.  With each player physically gifted and indoctrinated in the playbook, look for technique and results to be the deciding factors on the roster.

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