Kris Jenkins might stand 6'4" and weigh 349 pounds, but he isn't Superman. The big nose tackle, whom the Jets acquired from the Carolina Panthers for a pair of draft selections, will make a transition next season from a 4-3 defense line to a 3-4.
"It will be somewhat of an adjustment. I am human — I just can't put on a red cape and fly away," he said. "I think it's something I can handle and I can excel at."
After seven seasons in Carolina, Jenkins was dangled by the Panthers on the trade market. The Jets expressed interest and the three-time Pro Bowl selection (2002, '03, '06) liked what he heard.
"I spoke with [Eric] Mangini and [Mike] Tannenbaum for quite a while and I really liked the type of individuals that they are. To me they really seem like they're stand-up guys," Jenkins said of his new head coach and general manager. "It didn't take too much of a sales pitch for me. I really look at this as another chance to get on the field and play football, and as long as I can do that, I'm happy."
Over the past two seasons, Jenkins played in all 32 regular-season games and totaled 105 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Just as important, he stayed injury-free after two shortened seasons in 2004 and '05.
"My impression of defensive line in general is you do what you do to help your team win," he said. "At defensive line, whether it is holding up blockers or making a tackle or disrupting a play — regardless of whether its a 4-3 or its a 3-4 — that is the same thing."
But the challenge is different and that's something Jenkins embraces.
"I do get a little bit excited and I'm a little bit anxious about this upcoming season because I want to take on this task of this 3-4 defense," he said. "I'm a nose tackle — there are no excuses and there is nothing that you can say about anything. Basically I get to be the big stud in the middle who makes it easier for the linebackers and helps my team do what it needs to do to win."
Jenkins, an absentee during the Panthers' workout program last year, said he's committed to his new team and its requirements.
"Whatever I have to do as far as my work is concerned, workouts, training, I'm open to everything," he said. "I feel like I do train very hard in the off-season, I have been training up to this point, and I am going to do everything I can to be in top physical condition. I'm going to make sure I do whatever the organization asks of me to be the best player I can be for the organization."
The 28-year-old Jenkins wants to come in and be a mature leader for his new team. He's an important piece to the Jets' puzzle as they look to turn their fortunes around.
"Just off what has been seen over today with the activity, I think that shows in itself they want a Super Bowl and they're very enthusiastic about getting that," Jenkins said. "They want the people around them who will help them obtain that goal."
And although Jenkins isn't Superman, he ain't exactly Clark Kent, either.