Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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?"

Jenkins is bullish on the Bucs 04/24/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    ON THE BALL: Rays third baseman Evan Longoria makes the play and the throw during the first inning against the Pirates.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    Corey Dickerson is doing everything he can to garner All-Star votes heading into tonight's voting cutoff, going into play Wednesday leading the AL with 101 hits and rapping two more his first two times up, and scoring two more runs.

  3. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.
  4. Lightning prospects mantra: You never know when NHL chance will appear

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Brett Howden said he watched closely last season as former junior teammate Brayden Point made an remarkable rise to a Lightning regular in his first year pro.

    Lightning prospect Mikhail Sergachev skates during the Lightning Development Camp Wednesday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Rays journal: Team says no concern over 'hiccups' from Alex Colome

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The Rays say they know what isn't wrong with closer Alex Colome, that he's not hurt or in a mental funk. And they seem certain that whatever led him to have three straight rough outings will soon be corrected.

    Rays reliever Alex Colome has “had a couple hiccups” of late, manager Kevin Cash says.