- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys’ brass is optimistic that disgruntled and injured cornerback Mike Jenkins will be able to play during the preseason and are challenging him to compete when he is medically cleared.
Jenkins, who will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery, did not participate in any voluntary offseason activities. He asked to be traded after the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50.1 million deal and traded up to select Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick, but the Cowboys never seriously entertained granting that request.
Jenkins had hoped to tear up the last year of his rookie contract and sign a rich new deal. Instead, he probably lost his starting job.
“I think sometimes your feelings can get hurt when a team goes and signs somebody, they draft somebody at your position,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “But then once those emotions settle a little bit, you come back and you say, ‘OK, this is my situation? What’s the best thing for me to do?’
“Typically, if you have a guy that’s a competitor, he’s going to come back and compete. That’s going to be good for him, that’s going to be good for the other guy and ultimately it’s going to be good for your football team. We’re excited to see Mike’s progress physically and hoping to get him back out here on the football field to be a contributor to our team this year.”
Asked if he could understand Jenkins’ frustration, Garrett answered that the NFL is a challenging league and further emphasized the importance of competitiveness.
“The best players, the best teams compete week in and week out, year in and year out,” Garrett said. “The best guys I’ve been around have been the best competitors. That’s what made them great players. Mike understands that. He’s competed a long time in his life. He’ll be ready to compete when he gets healthy.”
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones has attempted to sell Jenkins on the opportunity he has with the Cowboys. He pointed out that the Cowboys won Super Bowls with a deep defensive line rotation, hinting that the cornerback corps could have similar success.
“Let’s dream a little bit,” Jones said. “What if Mike can be a part of a corner group that because of the skill level (and) size could be an outstanding corner group?
“He’s a free agent. … So he could be a part of quite a story, and in doing so greatly enhance his stature as far as the NFL is concerned. We know that he’s capable physically of doing that, so my point of view would be, hey, this is a great opportunity to come in here with this kind of talent, be a part of a unit that does innovative things at that position.:
Jones continued: “On an individual basis, in my mind, he’s given himself a best chance when you look to the future. And the future could very well be under those circumstances right here with the Dallas Cowboys. We will write a check for a good football player.”
Jones said Jenkins has bought into that concept during their conversations for it. It’s wise to take that with a grain of salt, at least until Jenkins ends the silent treatment he’s given the media while agent Drew Rosenhaus tried to get the Cowboys to trade his client.