Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jenkins is bullish on the Bucs

TAMPA — Mike Jenkins thinks about making plays at Raymond James Stadium again, the way he used to as a ball-hawking cornerback for the University of South Florida. He is eager to perform for a Bucs team he grew up rooting for and do it in front of people who have mattered the most.

Jenkins let all those emotions wash over him like the Florida sunshine Thursday following a minicamp practice.

"I've been all around, but it feels great to come back and play in the same stadium I played in college," Jenkins said. "To have a great atmosphere with friends and family and fans … this is where I made it. It's a blessing."

Whether he continues to feel the love depends on how well Jenkins plays.

After entering the NFL draft as a first-round pick (25th overall, five picks after the Bucs took Aqib Talib) by the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, Jenkins quickly made his mark. In his second year, he intercepted five passes in 15 games and was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team.

"I kind of set the bar real high," Jenkins said. "I probably set it too high for myself."

After another decent season, with 55 tackles, an interception and 19 passes defensed, an array of nagging injuries sabotaged his production the next two years before he joined the Raiders in 2013 as an unrestricted free agent.

The 5-foot-10, 197-pound Jenkins found his game with the silver and black in Oakland, where he recorded a career-best 65 tackles and two interceptions last season.

"A lot of people thought I couldn't play anymore and it felt good for me to go back out there and prove a lot of people wrong," said Jenkins, 29, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Bucs. "I made a lot of plays, I made a lot of tackles, a lot of people thought I couldn't tackle. I just wanted to keep everybody focused and we're going to have a repeat (this year)."

That would be fine for the Bucs, who found themselves in the unenviable position of having to release cornerback Darrelle Revis and use his $16 million per year contact to sign three defensive players, including Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner.

Jenkins, who played at Bradenton Southeast High School, will have to compete for a starting job with second-year cornerback Johnthan Banks.

"He's a great guy," Jenkins said of Banks. "He's long, athletic and he's putting it all on tape. That's all I can really tell about him. He's definitely pushing everybody to be a better secondary. We're just going to keep competing and keep helping each other through the journey."

Bucs coach Lovie Smith believes Jenkins has all the qualities to become an effective Cover 2 corner. Start with his ball skills. He has 10 career interceptions and 49 pass breakups. He also is a physical tackler.

"I've known about Mike," Smith said. "I remember when he worked out at USF. Good player. Local guy. Even last year as I was out, I watched him a bit. He was a guy with a year left and he had an opportunity to go wherever he wanted to. So we recruited him hard to come here. But he has a good record. I think he had six or seven interceptions for one year. He has good hands, he'll tackle.

"But for him, I told it was time for him to settle down. And what better place to settle down than back at home?"

 
Comments
Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Late-round NFL draft picks are often made on a wing and a prayer.The Bucs' fourth-round pick Saturday will be no different. The team announced Monday that as part of the NFL draft TV broadcast, the team's fourth-round pick will be delivered to an ann...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Published: 04/22/18
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Published: 04/22/18
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Published: 04/21/18
Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

TAMPA —Wait 'til this year seems to be the refrain at One Buc Place, even though the team was strangled by expectations in 2017. But a solid offseason that has already brought a rebuilt defensive line, new center and place-kicker has renewed th...
Published: 04/21/18
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Published: 04/20/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18