TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 13: Cornerback Mike Jenkins #21 of the Dallas Cowboys returns a blocked field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on September 13, 2009 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
I spent some time talking to Mike Jenkins at camp and this kid has the kind of swagger it takes to be a premier player in the league for a long time.
Last year, Jenkins needed four games to cement himself as a starting corner for the team. He was still battling with Orlando Scandrick last season before Wade Phillips named him the starting right corner.
Jenkins led the club in interceptions (5) and pass breaks (23) and was named a replacement in the Pro Bowl game.
This year, the Cowboys are looking to get more picks from a club that was ranked 26th in interceptions in 2009,
"We have a big goal to come in and get a lot turnovers," said Jenkins.
It's no secret the Cowboys have one of the NFL's toughest schedules filled with 10 pro bowl quarterbacks,
"It's tough," Jenkins said with raised eyebrows. "I looked and saw we had Drew Brees for Thanksgiving and turn right around and get Peyton Manning," he said with a smile. The Cowboys face the AFC champion Colts in Indy 10 days after facing the World Champion Saints.
In addition to facing Super Bowl MVP's Brees and Manning, Peyton's little brother, Eli, makes it a trifecta of quarterbacks who have captured MVP honors in the Super Bowl who are on the Cowboys schedule.
Jenkins expressed the desire for Brett Favre to return to the Vikings because they beat the Cowboys in the playoffs last year and are on the schedule Oct. 17.
Cowboys head coach and defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips compared his long arms and his recovery speed to that of future Hall of Fame corner back, Deion Sanders, who also wore the same 21 Cowboy jersey Jenkins dons now.
Phillips praised Jenkins coachablility saying, "I'll say one thing for him – he’s worked at it the whole time. He’s a very coachable guy. Some guys are more coachable than others. He listens to what you say, he works on what you tell him he needs to work on and he gets better. Once he got better, hedidn’t stop listening."
That kind of news is good to hear. Former 49ers quarterback coach, Mike Holmgren was told by Joe Montana, who had already won a Super Bowl, told the new coach who would be taking over, "Coach me hard." That tells you why Montana was a Hall of Famer, he never wanted to stop improving.
Phillips believes Jenkins willingness to keep getting better is what can make him an elite player, saying, "Some of them get to a certain level and they get pretty good and all of sudden it’s ‘I’m going to do this on my own.’ But he just takes coaching well and I think that’s a real key thing for a guy with that kind of ability.”