Jenkins brings experience, and Super Bowl ring, to Eagles

Jenkins
Jenkins
Posted: August 01, 2011

BETHLEHEM - And on the fifth day, Joe Banner, Andy Reid and Howie Roseman rested.

Sort of.

The Eagles did announce the signing of a free-agent guard yesterday morning - Evan Mathis - who does have 22 career starts on his resume. But compared to the 9.5-on-the-Richter-scale additions of the previous 3 days, this wasn't even a small thunder clap.

Sorry, Evan. That's what happens when you walk through the door behind Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Vince Young.

In less than a week, the Eagles have gone from a team that wasn't even in the Super Bowl conversation to one that's dominating it. With the additions of Asomugha and Co., Reid no longer is The Coach Who Can't Get Over the Hump. Banner no longer is Ebenezer Scrooge. Well, unless you're DeSean Jackson.

When the pigskin prognosticators come out with their Super Bowl predictions in a month or so, the Eagles are expected to be The Fashionable Pick.

Eagles fans are more than a little bit giddy, and that giddiness no doubt has extended to the training-camp practice fields here at Lehigh, where the Eagles are feeling pretty good about themselves right now.

But as one of the newest Eagles has reminded his new teammates, Super Bowls aren't won on paper.

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who signed with the Eagles on Saturday, knows what it's like to be The Fashionable Pick. He also knows what it takes to go from Fashionable Pick to Super Bowl champion.

"I've talked to some of the players already," said Jenkins, who earned a Super Bowl ring last year with the Packers. "You hear a lot of hype about the team right now. How many additions they've made. How many players they have. Being a favorite to go deep into the playoffs.

"Last year in Green Bay, early in the season, a lot of people were picking us to do good. But we didn't have the success right away because I think it was expected a little bit. We were doing OK, but we weren't quite there as a team until we got our backs up against the wall. Once you get your back up against the wall and you have to do it, there was no more worrying about, oh, how good are we, or where do people have us ranked."

The Packers were cruising along last year until back-to-back losses to Detroit and New England in Weeks 14 and 15 left them with an 8-6 record. Suddenly, their Super Bowl dreams were on life-support. Suddenly, they needed a win over the Giants in Week 16 just to keep their playoff hopes alive. They got that win, crushing the Giants, 45-17, and the rest is history. But it shows you just how fine the line can be between success and failure.

"We have one of the most talented teams in the league," Jenkins said of the Eagles. "It's just a matter of bringing it all together. You just don't put talent on the field and win because of it. You have to have camaradarie, trust, work ethic. Everything has to come together.

"That's something we've got to develop in training camp since we didn't have an offseason to go through and build that. We really have to use this training camp to build that up, because there will be times in the season when things will not go the way you want them to go.

"Those will be the times that will test the team the most. Will the team be able to come together? Especially with so many additions and new personalities. Will everybody be able to trust each other? Will everybody be able to hang in there and pull things together?"

Jenkins is going to be a very important part of the Eagles' Super Bowl run. The 6-3, 292-pounder gives the Eagles something they haven't had in a while - a legitimate pass-rushing tackle who also can play outside.

"He can really play both," said Roseman, the Eagles' general manager. "On third down, he rushes from inside. We think he makes a difference in that role. In this defense and in this scheme, it really utilizes all of his talents."

Jenkins had seven sacks last season. He played end in the Packers' 3-4 scheme, but moved inside to tackle in their nickel alignment, which they used most of the time, even against two-wide-receiver sets. Most of his sacks came inside.

The Eagles haven't had a tackle with seven or more sacks since 2003, when Corey Simon had 7 1/2. Darren Howard, an end who then defensive coordinator Jim Johnson slid inside to tackle in nickel situations, had 10 sacks in'08, but a number of them came on the outside.

"They just want me to get some penetration," Jenkins said. "Just get in there and bring some attitude and energy in there and get after it."

The Eagles got just eight sacks and 13 quarterback pressures from their four defensive tackles last season. Trevor Laws, who likely will line up inside next to Jenkins in nickel, had four of those sacks and seven of those hurries.

"I'm very excited to have him here," coach Andy Reid said. "We've added some people in the secondary, but you guys know I am about my offensive and defensive line. That's where you win the games. Up front. Any time you can get one of the best tackles in the NFL and add him to your team, it's a real plus."

Jenkins, who, like all non-rookies who have signed new contracts, can't start practicing until Thursday, is looking forward to playing for the Eagles' new defensive line coach, Jim Washburn.

"I just learned about coach Wash last season when we watched a little bit of tape of what the Tennessee defensive linemen would do," he said. "You sit there and watch it and shake your head and say, 'Man, I would love to be able to do that.'

"They fired off the ball. They really allowed their players to go out there and make plays and use their abilities and use their strengths. Inside, I know what my strengths are. Quickness is one of them. I like to be set up in situations where I can use that. In this scheme, it definitely puts you in a position to be able to use the strengths you have."


 

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