Jenkins mentally ready after win vs. Bucs
IRVING – Mike Jenkins can admit now that being ready mentally was his biggest obstacle heading into Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The veteran cornerback was entering the season coming off shoulder surgery and didn’t know how his body would react when it was his turn to make a play on the field.
He got that opportunity against Tampa Bay star wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
With Brandon Carr filling in at safety for an injured Gerald Sensabaugh, Jenkins was asked to defend the 6-5, 230-pounder. Late in the third quarter, Jenkins was able to put his mind at ease.
The former first-round pick stayed with Jackson step-for-step on a fly route near the Tampa Bay sideline and deflected a 30-yard pass from Josh Freeman. The Cowboys were clinging to a 10-7 lead at the time and a Jackson reception would likely have set the Buccaneers up with a first-and-goal situation.
“I think it was a challenge because I used the surgery arm to go up and get the ball,” Jenkins said Wednesday. “It was a big challenge for me just going up. That was actually my first time really using my arm like that. Going through practice, I never really get a chance to actually go all out and jump up for a ball and come down on my arm that physical. But I felt pretty good.”
Before Sunday’s game, Jenkins missed the season opener and played only eight snaps against the Seahawks. Against the Buccaneers, Jenkins played 31 of the Cowboys’ 60 defensive snaps.
Jenkins, who had surgery in January, admitted Wednesday that he had been in denial with himself before getting the increased playing time against Tampa Bay.
“Knowing the process that I went through, it was a long process for me coming back,” he said. “It’s definitely mental, going out there before you even use your arm. I probably practiced six times this year. No camp, no nothing. It’s more just mentally going out there, and I tried to psych myself out before the game, and just say, ‘If something happens, then it’s meant to happen.’ I think I accomplished the whole mental stage, just going out there, trying to psych myself out and just being around the other guys.”