The ‘Jackrabbit’ is now the old geezer.
At 29-years old, cornerback Janoris Jenkins is now the old man of the New York Giants secondary. The offseason departure of long-tenured cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie now places Jenkins among the leaders if not the leader of this group. It is a role that may be new to him, but one that he is taking very seriously.
Jenkins spoke last week during Giants minicamp and touched on his new role as a leader on the Giants defense.
“It is different. DRC was the old guy. He understood the scheme and what they expected in New York,” Jenkins said. “Now that he is gone, I am the older guy. I have to step in and fill his spot. Push the guys and show them how to practice and play hard. Just continue to do what I do.”
The secondary was a bit of a battle zone a year ago, with suspensions and personal sniping taking the focus during a difficult 3-13 season. If healthy, the secondary should rebound to be among the better units in the NFC.
A lot of that will depend on the health and mentality of Jenkins as well as fellow cornerback Eli Apple, who had a 2017 season he’d like to move on from. If those two can rebound to their 2016 form, then the defense, as well as the entire team, could be vastly improved.
One key for the defense this offseason appears to be improved communication.
Jenkins noted that the secondary is spending time “bonding” on and off the football field. Compared to the toxic atmosphere in the locker room a year ago, this is a good thing for the Giants.
The newly minted leader of the group isn’t trying to jam the camaraderie angle down the throats of his teammates but he sees a certain value in this group getting tighter. If they can do that as a unit, Jenkins said, then it will translate to the gridiron.
“It is not about pushing it. Some of that stuff comes natural,” Jenkins said. “You have to understand that it is football and we are going to be around each other more in football season than we would be outside of football. Just bonding off the field and on the field. It is just building that tight chemistry.”