IRVING – Mike Jenkins was a hot topic at Jason Garrett’s press conference Thursday at Valley Ranch. The Cowboys coach gave several lengthy answers to questions regarding the recent play of the veteran cornerback.
The former first-round pick had shoulder surgery in January, watched the Cowboys spend $50 million in free agency on a starting cornerback and then draft another one with their top pick.
Jenkins, who is in the last year of his contract, responded by remaining in Florida to rehab rather than joining his teammates at Valley Ranch for voluntary workouts. There were also reports that he requested a trade. Jenkins denied those reports.
His first chance at extended playing time came Sunday against Tampa Bay and Jenkins excelled, holding his own against the Buccaneers’ top receiver, Vincent Jackson.
Garrett said Thursday that because of Jenkins’ recent play and healthy right shoulder, the coaching staff is looking for ways to get the 27-year-old more playing time.
“Whenever he got to the point where he was healthy, we were trying to do that,” Garrett said. “Mike has played very well for us over the course of his career here. I thought he was particularly good last year in battling through the different adversities that he had with his health.
“We were just trying to get him back and healthy and look for chances to get him out there. We’ve done it a couple of different ways over the first couple of weeks since he has been back.”
Garrett said he has witnessed Jenkins’ confidence increase and “play with a spirit that we always liked about him.” In regards to Jenkins not attending voluntary workouts and the reports of him wanting a trade, Garrett said that’s simply the business side of professional football.
“Every year there’s a draft, every year there’s guys that get signed, it’s the nature of this business,” Garrett said. “Players, coaches, everybody needs to control what they can control. The biggest thing for Mike was to get himself healthy. That was the most important thing. He worked very hard at doing that. We worked very hard with him doing that, and we tried to get him the right rehab. He embraced the rehab.
“We knew when we could get him back that he would become the player that we’ve always known him to be. And we’re excited to have him going again.”