Kris Jenkins Is the Defense's New Mr. Big


Kris Jenkins is having a good time during the Jets' OTAs, but he wasn't thrilled with his first penalty lap.

"I don't think anybody is going to like running as punishment," Jenkins said following Thursday's workout. "It's something that I'll get used to."

The very large defensive tackle, acquired by the Green & White from the Carolina Panthers in an off-season trade, jumped over the line of scrimmage before the ball was snapped during a drill.

"We jump offside, we have to run. That was my first one," he said. "I think I'll make it a point not to jump offside anymore."

Later during the workout, a linebacker stepped on Jenkins' right cleat. Jenkins, an eight-year vet who has appeared in three Pro Bowls, unfortunately had damaged goods and had to wait (in his sock) for a replacement shoe.

"His cleats got caught in my shoelaces, so while I was trying to step and he was trying to go this way, I was trying to go that way. My shoelaces were going with him and the shoelaces ended up pulling the shoe out of the loops," Jenkins said. "It completely tore the loops and half my shoelace was over here and half of my shoelace was stuck at the top. My loopholes were just torn into two and I didn't have a lot of shoes in my locker, so they had to go in the basement and that took a long time."

But Jenkins has already established solid footing in Hempstead. Jets head coach Eric Mangini is pleased with the physical condition of the 6'4", 360-pound anchor of his defensive line.

"He makes 360 look good, you know? I wish I could say the same," Mangini told reporters. "But he's a fluid athlete, especially for someone his size."

Jenkins, who said he is 30 pounds lighter than he was last year, is adamant about staying at a weight deemed fit by Mangini and the strength coaches.

"Right now my weight is set at 360. That is what I have to maintain — that's what I will maintain," he said. "I will maximize that. We'll see if in the future that is where it's going to stay or we need to change it to make it a little bit better."

A 4-3 DT for most of his career, Jenkins will be the nose in the Jets' 3-4 front. He'll use the club's 15 OTA sessions and then all of training camp to get a better feel for his new role.

"I played two-gap for a brief period during my rookie year, so I do have a basic concept of it. It's a little bit of a difference than a 4-3," he said. "In a 4-3, you just get to run up the field. In a 3-4, you have to exercise a little bit more patience, but it's something I have up until the season to get on top of it and get real good at it. I'm just going to take it day by day."

The 28-year-old Jenkins was already friendly with a few players before entering the locker room. He played with Eric Barton collegiately at the University of Maryland, and both OL Will Montgomery and CB Hank Poteat spent some time with the Panthers during his Carolina tenure.

Jenkins, who owns a larger-than-life personality, also is hitting it off with his positional group, including the two ends he'll line up between, Shaun Ellis and Kenyon Coleman.

"They work hard. Everybody when they come out here and step on the field, that's serious business," Jenkins said. "Now when we get in the locker room, everything is jokes and it's fun. It's just a great environment. Being that those guys have been here for a little while, they know how to set an example and I like that. I was told when I came in that I have to help do my part to help contribute, to help be a leader for some of the younger guys."

As Mangini pointed out, Jenkins has the "new" trifecta — new team, new position, new learning curve. And since the players are in shorts and helmets, the contact for linemen isn't what they'll experience in the summer.

"There is a little bit more than you think. You don't hear the pads popping but even when we have pads off, there is a certain tempo we have to maintain," he said. "And even though we might not be helmet-to-helmet, you still have to be physical in there."

Jenkins, recently engaged to the mother of two of his sons, said his family is going to move up to the area prior to training camp. He has an older son who will remain in North Carolina, so he'll have to adjust to being further away from him.

But Jenkins is a big fan of his new home.

"Other than the traffic, I love it," he said of NYC. "I love the restaurants, I love the shopping and everything there is to do. It's just big-city life at its best. I enjoy it, I have fun, I embrace it, and I love the heartbeat."

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