- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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As the St. Louis Rams prepare to enter their third training camp under coach Jeff Fisher, much will hinge on the ability of the team's many young players to turn potential into production. In this final week before camp officially begins, we take a look at some players who must take the next step either to preserve their jobs, help the team reach its first winning record since 2003 or, to the team's preference, both.
We continue this week-long series with cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
What he's done: Jenkins actually did produce quite a bit in his rookie season in 2012 and looked every bit the part the player many believed was the most talented cornerback in the 2012 draft. He posted four interceptions, a fumble recovery and 73 tackles as a rookie, including four defensive touchdowns. But Jenkins didn't take much of a step forward in year 2 with 60 tackles, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. While he's had a knack for making big plays in his first two seasons, he's also given up his share.
Why he must do more: The Rams sent a strong message of confidence in Jenkins and fellow young corner Trumaine Johnson in the offseason when they cut Cortland Finnegan and chose not to pursue a potential starting outside corner in free agency or the draft. Jenkins is the guy the team is counting on to emerge as their No. 1 corner, the type capable of matching up with the best receivers in the league. St. Louis has put in place perhaps the best defensive line in the league, which should create pressure and, in turn, opportunities for the defensive backs such as Jenkins to make plays. It's entirely possible that Jenkins' struggles in 2013 were a direct result of defensive coordinator Tim Walton's lack of aggressive coverage schemes, but that should be out the window with Gregg Williams now in charge. Jenkins will get plenty of chances to be more aggressive and play up on receivers.
Where he fits: Entering his third season in the league, Jenkins is also entering his third season as a starter and he likely will be the team's top corner in 2014. He's also the most experienced corner on the team and with Cortland Finnegan gone Jenkins will be asked to take on more of a leadership role. According to Pro Football Focus, Jenkins allowed a 64.4 percent completion rate and seven touchdowns for an opposing passer rating against of 115.3 in 2013. The Rams are still high on Jenkins' potential and there's little reason they should think otherwise, but they'll need more from him in 2014 if the defense is to ascend to a top-10 group.