It was only a minicamp practice, still three months from the regular season, but the former Pro Bowl defensive tackle took a significant step on Monday in his recovery from major knee surgery. Jenkins returned to team drills, participating in both practices on Day 1 of a three-day minicamp.
"It's been a while," Jenkins said. "I've been waiting to get back out there. I know I still have to be smart. I'm not 21. I can't be stubborn. I feel great, but I'm at an age where I have to be smart with what I do."
Jenkins, who turns 31 in August, was limited in both sessions. There's no need to push it, not in mid-June. He was just happy to be out there. Just last week, he was told by the trainers that he might have to sit out the minicamp as a precaution.
"We're breaking him in slowly," coach Rex Ryan said.
In addition to his surgically repaired left knee, the Jets are concerned about Jenkins' weight. He had ballooned to 390 pounds, about 30 pounds above his playing weight. Battling teammate Damien Woody and coach Rex Ryan in a well-publicized weight-loss contest, Jenkins is down to about 380, still aiming for 360 by the start of training camp.
Jenkins admitted his knee was on his mind during practice, especially on one play when he was being double-teamed by Woody and Brandon Moore, but he considered that part of a strength test. And he was pleased with the results.
"Pushing against those guys and not having the knee buckle felt great," said Jenkins, who tore his ACL last October.