Healthy Outlook

Taylor Jacobs doesn't want to forget last year, a cruel reminder of life in the NFL. He also doesn't want to repeat it. He entered as a healthy second-round draft pick, one who would shine because he already had played in this system.

He exited as a banged-up second-round question mark, with only three receptions and plenty more questions. Starting with this one: could he play in the NFL?

Jacobs says the answer is yes. The Redskins still have faith that he can play, too. But they won't really know what they have in him until training camp starts. Until then, Jacobs must start the long road back to being a promising prospect.

To his credit, he's already started, having added five pounds of muscle. At minicamp last weekend, Jacobs looked noticeably bigger, particularly his arms.

``I feel stronger and I feel like I'm in better shape,'' Jacobs said. ``When we get to the next [minicamp] I plan to be a whole lot more stronger and in better shape. I want to get bigger so I can protect myself better. I realized that I needed to add more muscle to protect myself [after getting hit]. Hopefully [the injuries] won't happen again this year.''

Jacobs knows that he's under a microscope. His main ally, ex-coach Steve Spurrier, is gone, as is the offense that he was most familiar with. Also, there's a lot of competition at receiver with Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner, Darnerien McCants and James Thrash.

And Jacobs knows he's guaranteed nothing. He's still in the Redskins' plans, but these coaches don't know much about him. What they do know is that he didn't do much last season. A big part of the problem was an abdominal injury suffered in the preseason finale that sidelined Jacobs for the first three games. He later missed part of a game with an injured knee and missed the final two games because of a foot injury.

``I'm not concerned about what happened last year,'' Jacobs said. ``Thing shappen. I'm not an injury-prone person. I had maybe three injuries in my life before last year. I missed two games my whole career. I'm just hoping that was my injury year and I'll go on to have a healthy career.''

More than anything, he'd hate to suffer a repeat of 2003.

``It was real tough,'' Jacobs said. ``It's a blow to your pride, your ego. But it's part of life. I just learned to accept it. All I can do is go out and try my best and hope for the best. I'm still a competitor and I fight for every ball I get.''

It won't just be footballs he'll be fighting for this summer. He'll also be fighting for playing time -- and his reputation.

``I hope that was my injury year,'' Jacobs said, ``and I have nothing else to worry about.''


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