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A.J. Jenkins hoping late push leads to Cowboys' roster spot

"I'm definitely getting my confidence back," A.J. Jenkins said. "I'm in the playbook and trying to feel like myself back again." Gus Ruelas/AP

OXNARD, Calif. -- Early on in training camp there appeared to be no chance receiver A.J. Jenkins could crack the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster.

With two preseason games remaining the chances have improved only a little, but Jenkins is hoping a better-late-than-never tack will work in his favor.

"I'm definitely getting my confidence back," Jenkins said. "I'm in the playbook and trying to feel like myself back again."

The upward tick in plays started last week with a number of difficult catches, especially a low, diving grab across the middle near the goal line. In the preseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers, who made him a first-round pick in 2012, Jenkins caught two passes for 20 yards.

And then on Tuesday Jenkins made a one-handed, spinning catch of a seam throw from Dustin Vaughan that had the crowd clapping.

"He is one of those guys who keeps pounding away every day," coach Jason Garrett said. "He got a couple of chances in the game -- made a good catch on a long third down, made a good catch on a contested ball down the field. He is one of those guys who has some ability."

The 49ers took Jenkins in the first round after a 90-catch, 1,276-yard, eight-touchdown senior season at Illinois, but he didn't have a catch as a rookie in 2012 and was traded to Kansas City the following year. In two seasons with the Chiefs he caught 17 passes for 223 yards in 25 games.

With Dez Bryant missing from the offseason program and a young core of receivers remaining, the Cowboys signed Jenkins in May to bring some experience to the group.

He didn't make much of an impact in the minicamp and was out of sorts early in training camp.

He admits he is trying to prove others wrong, but it is more than just that.

"Trying to prove myself also," Jenkins said. "I haven't been on a team (for a long time). I've been bouncing around. I have to prove to myself I can do it."

With Devin Street slowed by an ankle injury and the Cowboys not wanting to over-use Bryant in the remaining preseason games Jenkins will get more chances to show he is worth keeping around.

We make evaluations of these guys every minute of every day: on the field, off the field, in meetings, the walkthrough or walking down the hall. The evaluations are constant. There are a lot of eyes on these guys. A lot of things go into the evaluation. Obviously what they do on the football field matters. Again it's up to us to keep giving them opportunities to show they can do it or that they can't do it. You're looking for guys that keep growing and take the coaching and get better. We have a lot of young guys who have done that. I think A.J. has done that."