Last trip to Jersey motivates Jenkins

IRVING, Texas -- The most memorable moment from Mike Jenkins’ rookie season was an attempt to avoid a tackle at the Meadowlands.

Jenkins’ attitude about that play, when he avoided contact with then-New York Giants running back Derrick Ward on a late touchdown, is evidence of his remarkable maturation over the last year.

In the week after the game, after he’d been ripped by Fox broadcaster Troy Aikman among others, Jenkins was defensive about the non-tackle attempt. He made a silly excuse, saying he thought that safety Courtney Brown would make the play.

Jenkins acknowledges now that he was in the wrong. And he’s determined to make sure that he’s never in a similar situation again.

“At first, it was a hassle, but as I worked out and went through the offseason, it definitely became a motivation,” said Jenkins, who admitted that he still thinks about that play on a regular basis. “Every week, I try to make big hits. Sometimes I knock myself out trying to overdo it. But it’s definitely a motivator.”

Jenkins has emerged as the Cowboys’ best cornerback this season. When he has missed tackles, it hasn’t been because of a lack of effort. And he’s made several solid tackles in the open field.

“It was very personal,” Jenkins said of the perception after that play that he was soft. “I knew what kind of player I was and I’m just trying to get that out to everybody.”