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Thursday, August 11, 2011
Malcolm Jenkins ready for big year

By Pat Yasinskas

You saw the promise last year, but Malcolm Jenkins said that’s not all you’re going to get.

I sat down with the free safety for the New Orleans Saints after a recent camp practice in Metairie, La. and discussed where he’s at as he heads for his third NFL season and second as a starting safety. Jenkins, a first-round pick in 2009, spent his rookie season playing cornerback.

Last year, he made the switch to safety.

“It’s a lot easier this time around,’’ Jenkins said. “At this time last year, I was still learning the position and learning my assignments. After last season, I’m comfortable with all that. I don’t have to spend as much time thinking. I just have to go out and play football and that’s the fun part.’’

Jenkins took over for an injured Darren Sharper last year and performed so well that the veteran was never able to get his starting job back. Sharper currently is a free agent and it doesn’t look like the Saints will be bringing him back.

“I don’t have my crutch this year,’’ Jenkins said. “'Sharp' was my crutch. I could go to him with any question and he could talk me right through it. He really helped me a lot.’’

Jenkins had two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble last year. He was instrumental in a Thanksgiving victory against Dallas in which he stripped the ball from Roy Williams and helped spark a New Orleans comeback.

Players, coaches and scouts around the league were saying Jenkins was playing at a Pro Bowl level by late last season. Jenkins agrees that he got better as the season went on, but he’s ready to take another step.

“It wasn’t a bad season for my first year at safety,’’ Jenkins said. “But I look back at the film and see where I left a lot of plays on the table. A big part of [defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’] philosophy is to force a lot of turnovers. I feel I could have helped create more turnovers as I look back at last year. My goal this year is to go out and make those turnovers happen or get them and I think I can do that because I know what I’m doing now. I feel like I can do a lot more for this team this year.’’