WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Nose tackles don’t exactly pile up statistics. So the New Orleans Saints’ John Jenkins was quick to correct a reporter Tuesday when it was mentioned that he had no sacks during his rookie season.
“I had one. Seattle,” Jenkins said with a big laugh as he referenced his sack in the Saints’ divisional-round playoff loss. “I gotta get that.”
Jenkins’ spirits were high as he met with the media for the first time in training camp Tuesday. He finally returned to the practice field for the first time this week after his summer was wiped out by a pectoral surgery.
By all accounts though, Jenkins’ summer has been as productive as possible as he’s rehabbed rigorously with the trainers on a daily basis and absorbed as much as he can in the classroom.
Jenkins’ weight, which is admittedly an issue that needs to be monitored for someone his size, actually looks even better than last year at this time. He said he weighs 347 pounds and the team likes him somewhere in the 340s.
“I feel good. I mean, do I look good out there? Y’all watching,” said Jenkins, who said he didn’t get too frustrated about missing time this summer -- but admitted he’s anxious to get back to full speed.
“Oh, I’m anxious, man. This is what I do for a living. I’m excited,” Jenkins said.
Despite his lack of statistics, Jenkins did make a big impact in the middle of the Saints’ defensive line after being selected in the third round out of Georgia last year. Breakout stars Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette constantly credited the big guys inside for helping them load up on sacks around the edges -- often mentioning Jenkins by name.
And because veteran nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley battled injuries last year, Jenkins wound up playing nearly 50 percent of all the Saints’ snaps on defense last season -- high volume for a rookie nose tackle.
“He’s a big anchor point. He’s a block eater. He eats up a couple blocks, which frees somebody to go,” said defensive line coach Bill Johnson, rattling off all of Jenkins’ strong points. “He’s a guy that lines up right. And what really was surprising, he’s a pretty good athlete for a big guy. And another thing that we found that he had a lot more stamina than you think these big guys had.
“You know, I would have loved to have come to OTAs and him been ready to go. But that’s part of this business, and we’ll catch up as we move forward.”
When asked what particular area of his game he wants to improve, Jenkins said, “everything.”
“Get a sack in the regular season instead of the playoffs,” Jenkins said with another laugh.