Tuesday, May 7, 2013
WR Jenkins embraces veteran role
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Much like a professional golfer who remembers every shot on the course with vivid detail, veteran receiver Michael Jenkins has similar recollections from football games over his nine-year NFL career.
In 2005, his second season, there was the Falcons' Week 5 loss to the visiting Patriots that turned out to be backup quarterback Matt Schaub's breakthrough.
Michael Jenkins had 40 catches last season for the Vikings.
"He threw for about 300 yards. I remember [Michael] Vick was hurt," recalled Jenkins, who had 3 catches for 55 yards in that game against a Patriots cornerback tandem of Asante Samuel and Duane Starks.
In 2009, there was his first-ever trip to Gillette Stadium for a Week 3 road game against the Patriots (26-10 New England win).
"They called OPI [offensive pass interference] on me and took a touchdown away," Jenkins recalled of a game in which he led Atlanta with 5 receptions for 78 yards. "It was fun to play here as an opponent, coming up, riding through neighborhoods, and all of a sudden there is a stadium; then getting on the field and the muskets and the fans."
Now Jenkins is hoping to make Gillette Stadium his permanent residence. After signing a one-year, $855,000 contract with the Patriots in March, the 30-year-old is a veteran presence at a position that has undergone a dramatic makeover -- and youth movement -- since last season.
Jenkins, who has been considered a quiet-yet-solid locker-room presence in his time with the Falcons and Vikings, said he's happy to lend a helping hand to rookies Aaron Dobson (2nd round) and Josh Boyce (4th round), among others, just as players such as Warrick Dunn, Peerless Price, Dez White and Tony Gonzalez did for him earlier in his career.
Meanwhile, he still feels like has something to offer as a player, and at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, he's a bigger target who projects to a role on the perimeter. If Dobson struggles in the college-to-NFL transition, Jenkins (40 catches, 2 TDs last season) could be counted upon to fill the void.
To do so, however, the Ohio State alum had to light-heartedly come to grips with the idea that he'd be on the receiving end of throws from quarterback Tom Brady.
"Everybody says 'how are you going to catch passes from a Michigan guy?' But I'm looking forward to it," he cracked. "Tom's a hard worker, he's always willing to throw and get better. That's why he's one of the best in the league."
Jenkins, who has been taking part in the team's offseason program (he has a $15,000 bonus to do so) while his family remains home in Atlanta, plans to attend his first Red Sox game at Fenway Park tonight. After seven seasons with the Falcons and the last two with the Vikings, he has tried to enjoy his first extended period in New England.
"I'm kind of figuring my way around. Once I get done working out, I just go driving around, go up and down Rte. 1, and see what's around," he said. "I'm just looking forward to learning more about the city."