Mike Jenkins at Dallas Cowboys Mini-Camp, Ready for Slot Corner Role
As promised, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins arrived at Valley Ranch for the start of the team’s mini-camp on Tuesday. After skipping all of Dallas’ OTAs while rehabbing in Florida, Jenkins’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said his client would attend mini-camp and the South Florida product delivered on that promise.
Now Jenkins can rehab properly with the Cowboys’ training staff and join his teammates in continuing to learn Rob Ryan’s complex variable 3-4 defense. Jenkins especially has much to learn as he’ll be playing a lot in the slot in 2012 after playing mostly on the outside for his professional career.
“He’s got a whole new world to learn there,” Ryan said. “We’re going to move him in there to compete. He’s going to be all over the place like all these other defensive backs. Mike is a very talented kid, a smart kid and he’s got the talent and the ability to do it. Right now, we’re coaching the guys that are here.”
The move comes after the Cowboys revamped Ryan’s stable of cornerbacks this off-season by releasing Terence Newman, signing Brandon Carr and drafting Morris Claiborne. With the latter two set to start on the outside for Dallas, Jenkins will move to the slot, where the Cowboys believe he can return to his Pro Bowl form.
However, Ryan and Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson want Jenkins and all Dallas’ cornerbacks to be able to play everywhere in a defense that’s constantly changing and shifting.
“Yeah, Jerome trains them that way, so he can move them all over the place,” Ryan said. “Right now there’s a comfort level we never really had last year. Guys are starting to understand the defense more and that way you can play them at more spots and be a better defense.”
Ryan went on to say the Cowboys will play three cornerbacks “60-65 percent of the time” so Carr, Claiborne and Jenkins all have to be ready at all times to play anywhere on the field. The comfort level Ryan described might be the difference in another .500 season or a division title for Dallas in 2012.
Last season, the Cowboys blew four 12-point, fourth-quarter leads. Take those away and Dallas would have finished 12-4 and won the NFC East by four games. Needless to say, expectations are high in Dallas once again.
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