Is Mike Jenkins hurting his own chances?

When things are slow, I can count on Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com to help fill the void. So I wasn't surprised to find his piece this morning on Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins. Todd believes Jenkins is doing himself a disservice by working out on his own this offseason instead of joining in the Cowboys' voluntary offseason workout program:

Is Jenkins, who was the Cowboys' best cornerback last season -- and that is not meant as faint praise -- upset that he does not have a new contract? Is he upset the team signed Brandon Carr to a $50 million deal and Orlando Scandrick to a $27 million deal before he could cash in? Is he upset the Cowboys traded up to get Morris Claiborne in the first round in the draft?

Maybe it's yes to all three, but staying home is not the right answer.

Todd goes on to cite the past cases of Ken Hamlin and Marion Barber as examples of players who made similar decisions that didn't work out too well. But I think the more central and present point here is that the Cowboys are investing a lot of their 2012 hope in this offseason conditioning program they've had strength coach Mike Woicik install. We've heard several Cowboys players rave about it already, and the team believes that if it had been in place last year they could have avoided some of their more serious injury problems. Miles Austin's hamstrings, for example.

Now, it may be that what Jenkins ultimately wants is not something he can get. With Carr signed, Claiborne drafted No. 6 overall and Scandrick signed long-term, there doesn't seem to be much hope of Jenkins getting a long-term deal with the Cowboys. But if he plans to test the free-agent waters next year, the best way for him to succeed is to have as healthy and productive a 2012 season as possible. And if he's not going to go along with the Cowboys' program while others are, he might not end up getting the chance to play as much or be as productive as he can be.

Jenkins showed a lot last year -- toughness while playing hurt and high-level ability when healthy. He could help someone in 2013, even if it's not the Cowboys. But I tend to agree with Todd here that the best way for him to cash in next year is to play the good soldier this year. You never know. Claiborne's a rookie and coming off wrist surgery. Jenkins might get to play a lot more -- especially early in the season -- than people are assuming he will. Best bet is to be as prepared for that chance as possible.