Rookie OLB Jordan Jenkins has been a member of the Jets for six months, but the surreal feeling of life as a professional athlete has yet to wear off.
"It's an awesome feeling. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world," Jenkins told Eric Allen and Larry Hardesty this week on Inside the Jets. "Each week we travel and go to another stadium. Walking into the Cardinals Stadium (University of Phoenix Stadium), I was just looking up at everything, thinking man this is my livelihood now. It really humbles you at times because when you really think about it, you never know what's going to be your last snap, your last down to ball."
After missing the opening two weeks of the season with a calf injury, the Georgia product has started three games and recorded 11 total tackles. He has also been a key cog in setting the edge for a defense that ranks No. 6 against the rush.
"I feel like it's starting to slow down. I'm starting to get a little bit of confidence, play a little more aggressive and nasty," he said. "I don't have to think about things as much. I jumped the snap on Arizona's tight end a couple times and it's really all about building that confidence and your comfort level. I feel like week in and week out, I've been building that and pretty soon I'll be out there talking trash to some of the vets and just getting after it."
In the Jets' 28-3 loss to the Cardinals, the defense surrendered its first 100-yard rusher this season as David Johnson finished with 111 yards on the ground. The Jets will be in bounce-back mode this week against Terrance West, but they got back to their pressure packages in the desert. Jenkins, who is searching for his first QB sack, also had more opportunities to get up the field that at any previous point.
"I probably got more rushes in one game than I've had probably the entire season. I'm excited about that, and I feel like we're getting back to that," he said. "I just hope moving forward we'll continue to do that depending on who we have available and what the team is doing."
Jenkins has also drawn the eye of his coaching staff since being inserted into the starting lineup. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers highlighted the 6'3", 259-pounder's ability to play in space last Thursday in his weekly press conference. While Jenkins possesses the physical tools to play at a high level, he is still learning the recipe on how to become a successful pro in the NFL.
"The biggest challenge is really finding out if you know everything, when you know everything like this coverage or this pressure. Come game time situation, you might panic or have a slight hesitation," he said. "You just have to really just study as much film as you think you need to and then do some more on top of that."