Jarvis Jenkins is making sure of all his reps count. Starting in place of defensive tackle Steve McLendon, who was held out for precautionary measures in Thursday's preseason opener, Jenkins made the first two tackles of the opening series. While it's a small serving size, the wily vet knows what to improve on in order to be ready for the season opener against the Bengals.
"I have to be better with my hands," he said. "I need to be more disruptive and not play the offensive lineman's hands. Hitting somebody new, you can create bad habits whether it's footwork or hands. I just have to take what I do on this field and apply it to the game field because that's what's going to make you be on the field for the last game, for the Super Bowl."
The former Bear is adjusting smoothly to defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers' system after signing with the Jets in March. In today's practice, the 6'4", 300-pounder showed off his strength, exploding through the line and wrapping up running back Bilal Powell for a tw-yard loss.
"I feel pretty good," Jenkins said. "They express knowing your assignments and not going out there if you don't. The defense is the heart of the team and if I go out there and I'm not preparing, I'm not only letting those 11 guys down, but the offense too."
The Clemson product is excited to be a part of a defense that ranked fourth overall in 2015, describing the rest of his unit as "special." In camp, Jenkins has been receiving first-team reps along with Steve McLendon, Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson. Like an NBA sixth man, the versatile lineman embraces the next man up mentality.
"I felt going through my career, I was hot and cold," Jenkins said, who added defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, "said something today that really hit home — I have to come in and be a microwave. I can't heat up, I need to already be heated up once I get out there. That's my key, not only starting fast, but finishing faster."