ASHBURN, Va. — Cullen Jenkins couldn’t afford to sit at home and wait for an NFL team to call.
The veteran defensive lineman worked out in New Jersey with trainer Javier Chimanovski throughout the offseason and long after training camps opened. Still, after 12 seasons in the NFL Jenkins remained unsigned. But on Monday it all paid off when the Washington Redskins signed Jenkins to a one-year deal.
“Mentally it starts to get tough the later it gets because you’re training, training, training, training, training and then sometimes you can start to wonder: ‘Am I training for anything? Is that call going to come?'” Jenkins said after working out, signing and going through practice. “I would just tell people if the call doesn’t come, it is what it is, but it’s not going to come and then I’m not going to be ready. I’m going to make sure I’m ready regardless.”
At 35 years old, Jenkins brings leadership and depth to the Redskins’ defensive line that had some question marks. Coach Jay Gruden said the team had some players already in camp it was happy with but wanted to add “another big body” to the mix days before cutting to the 53-man roster.
Jenkins spent the past three seasons with the New York Giants and also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. He has 332 tackles and 47 ½ sacks in his NFL career.
Gruden believes Jenkins can play anywhere along the defensive line, which can’t hurt at a time the Redskins have to make some final decisions.
“I still got a lot of quickness and experience,” Jenkins said. “With that ability to still try to get after the quarterback and just be a versatile player, that’s been what I’ve been my whole career — someone who can try to be versatile and play a lot of different positions.”
Jenkins, who didn’t have any other NFL workouts before Monday, said he didn’t ask general manager Scot McCloughan for any assurances that he’ll be on the 53-man roster after this weekend because he signed so late.
“It’s still a matter of me having to prove myself,” Jenkins said. “I’m an older player. I’m 35 years old. I don’t expect any give-mes or guarantees coming into this thing. You come in and the way to do it: You come in, you prove yourself, you show what you’ve got. If you do a good job of that, then you’ve got a chance to stay around.”
Jenkins said it was a possibility that he’ll play in the fourth preseason game Thursday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
His signing came on the same day the New England Patriots cut former Redskins defensive lineman Terrance Knighton and got Bryan Stork back after the center failed his physical with Washington. The Redskins sent a draft pick to the Patriots for Stork on Wednesday, and the 25-year-old mulled retirement before deciding to report.
“It’s unfortunate,” Gruden said of Stork failing his physical. “He’s a great kid and obviously a very good player. Every physical is different on every team, so it might be different somewhere else, but it didn’t work out here.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday morning of Stork’s situation: “We’ll find out exactly what the story is and whenever that is we’ll make the best decision that we can.”
Gruden said even without Stork the Redskins feel good about their depth at center, despite Kory Lichtensteiger being held out of practice with shoulder soreness and backup Spencer Long, who’s in competition to start at left guard, dealing with a sprained right ankle. They added interior line depth by claiming 26-year-old guard Vinston Painter off waivers from the Denver Broncos.
Notes: Gruden ruled rookie WR Josh Doctson out of the final preseason game because of an Achilles injury but said the first-round pick could still play in the season opener Monday, Sept. 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. … LB Ryan Kerrigan is considered day to day with a groin strain. … Rookie RB Keith Marshall is out at least three weeks with a sprained left elbow, putting his status in doubt with final cuts approaching. … Rookie Nate Sudfeld will start at quarterback against the Buccaneers, Gruden said.
AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Foxborough, Massachusetts, contributed to this story.