OXNARD (AP) — Mike Jenkins insists he never asked to be traded by the Dallas Cowboys, even as the former Pro Bowl cornerback did his rehabilitation elsewhere during the offseason while the team added two prominent players at his position.
There were numerous reports that Jenkins wanted to be dealt while he stayed home in Florida after offseason shoulder surgery. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones repeatedly said that wouldn’t happen, and Jenkins said nothing to dispel talk of a trade demand while at the team’s mandatory minicamp in June.
“Y’all haven’t gotten any quotes out of me yet. As long as it hasn’t come from my mouth, I don’t understand how a lot of people come up with a lot of things,” Jenkins said Monday, the first day of training camp practices. “But that’s not my job. My focus right now is to get better and to help the team out.”
Jenkins, a first-round pick in 2008 who went to the Pro Bowl the next year, is going into the final season of his rookie contract. It comes after the Cowboys signed free agent Brandon Carr to a $50 million, five-year deal in March and traded up in April’s draft to get LSU All-American cornerback Morris Claiborne sixth overall.
Claiborne was working with the first-team defense when training camp opened.
Third-year receiver Dez Bryant was back on the field two weeks after his arrest on suspicion of assaulting his mother during an argument. His mother, who made a 911 call, has since said that she doesn’t want authorities to pursue family violence charges against her son.
With pending legal issues, and still the possibility of NFL or team discipline, Cowboys officials said Bryant wasn’t available for interviews. Bryant walked off the field after practice without talking to reporters.
While Bryant didn’t talk, Jenkins spoke publicly for the first time since last season, when he started 12 games in an injury-decimated secondary and missed all four November games with a hamstring injury.
Jenkins acknowledged that the additions of Carr and Claiborne were a bit of a shock to him and that “at first” he got a sense that the Cowboys weren’t happy with him.
“At the same time, I understand. It’s a business” Jenkins said. “There is nothing I can do about it. You’ve got to respect (Jones). He brought me in. I respect him. He gave me a chance to showcase myself.”
The reason Jones is steadfast in wanting to keep Jenkins is that the owner envisions him being part of a formidable cornerback rotation even if he’s not starting.
“We won a Super Bowl (in the 1990s) with a real rotation in the defensive line. Some really fine player,” Jones said. “What if Mike could be a part of a corner group that, because of the skill level, could be an outstanding corner group? He’s a free agent. He could be part of quite a story and, in doing so, greatly enhance his stature as far as the NFL is concerned. We know that he’s capable physically of doing that.”
Jones also raised the possibility of Jenkins remaining past this season.
When asked about the idea of staying in Dallas long term, Jenkins said that wasn’t part of his thought process now.
“Wherever I end up, I’m just ready to play and help that team out. I don’t know if it’s here. If it’s anywhere else, I just have to go with it,” he said. “I’m not really worried about that right now. The only thing I am worried about right now is to get myself healthy. … Wherever I am at, I’m just ready to help out.”
Coach Jason Garrett said Jenkins is getting his shoulder stronger and that his range of motion is better. The coach expressed hope that Jenkins could practice in the next week or two and get into a game before the end of the preseason.
Jenkins expects to have a better idea on that after returning to Florida later this week to meet with Dr. James Andrews, the doctor who did his shoulder surgery. Jenkins said he remained in Florida instead of returning to Texas for his rehab to be close to his doctor.
“I was familiar with him. It was only right for me to stay with the guy who was doing my surgery,” Jenkins said.
Now that he is back with his teammates, Jenkins plans to be positive, even though he doesn’t know how things will turn out and is unsure on Jones’ contention that his value could be enhanced as part of a cornerback rotation.
“I am here with the Cowboys. I am a part of this organization. I am just going to start focusing with that,” Jenkins said. “I don’t care whatever everybody else says. I just care about this organization because this is where I am at.”
NOTES: RB Felix Jones, WR Andre Holmes and newly acquired S Brodney Pool failed the team’s conditioning test and have not been cleared to practice. Jones is coming off shoulder surgery. When asked if he was surprised, Garrett responded, “We anticipate all of our players being able to pass our conditioning test.'” The trio worked on conditioning with a trainer during practice. They will have to pass the conditioning test, a series of timed dashes, before being able to practice. … S Gerald Sensabaugh, who had what he called a minor right knee procedure two weeks ago, was on the field. He passed the conditioning test but isn’t cleared to do everything yet.