Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was asked an interesting question Thursday about cornerback Mike Jenkins playing special teams.
Jenkins is expected to return to practice Saturday after missing training camp and the offseason programs due to his recovery from shoulder surgery. He doesn't have any special teams tackles in his career or the best reputation for being a sure tackler. But last season, Jenkins played through neck, leg and shoulder injuries and has rebuilt his image in some ways.
With the Cowboys trying to figure out playing time for their corners, getting Jenkins special teams snaps could be an option.
"Well, we haven’t had that conversation, or I haven’t specifically," Garrett said. "Really, we’re just trying to get him back on the practice field and get him moving around and playing football. What his particular role will be we’ll determine best once he’s back on the field."
As it stands, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr are the starting corners with Orlando Scandrick playing in the slot. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Jenkins can also cover wide receivers in the slot. Jenkins doesn't have a lot of experience in that area, but the Cowboys want their defensive backs to play several spots on the field.
It could be a risk sending Jenkins onto the special teams unit. He is coming off a shoulder surgery that cost him the entire offseason. He was just cleared to practice and taken off the physically unable to perform list Wednesday.
Playing special teams can sometimes be a brutal business given how quickly a player has to make a tackle in some situations. The Cowboys might not want to put Jenkins in that role, at least not right now.
Another factor in keeping Jenkins just on defense is the uncertainty that comes with Claiborne. He's a rookie corner and some young corners in this league struggle at the position. Say what you will about Jenkins, but he does have 46 NFL starts on his resume and would be a more than suitable replacement for Claiborne if he struggles.