Cullen Jenkins had to wait a while to get the right opportunity.
The veteran defensive lineman started 14 games for the Giants in 2015, which was the final year of his contract. The Giants did not want to bring him back so he worked and waited. And wondered.
“As it kept later and later you wonder because the truth with the league is, as you get older your opportunities get less and less,” said Jenkins in the Redskins locker room after his first practice with his new team. “ Then you start sitting there for as long as I have and it makes people wonder. So you start wondering. But you still you've got to keep preparing and stay ready. If the call doesn't come, it is what it is. But it's not going to come and I'm not going to be ready.”
He did get a few calls but it was important to him to stay near his home and family in New Jersey. The Redskins finally invited him down for a workout. They liked what the saw from the 12-year veteran and signed him to a one-year deal.
“It adds another veteran player with some flexibility on the defensive line,” said Jay Gruden. “He’s played three-technique, he’s played nose, he’s played the four, he’s played the five. He’s played a little bit of everything in his career.”
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Jenkins sees himself having the same strengths.
“I've got a lot of quickness and experience . . . I'm just going to try to get to the quarterback and be a versatile player,” he said.
The Redskins defense plays a one-gap technique. That’s a system that Jenkins is quite familiar with from his seven seasons with the Packers.
“The one gap, I don't mind it at all,” he said. “I played it back in Green Bay a while ago and I did well in it. I haven't played it in the last five years so it's something I'll have to get back in the rhythm of but I'm definitely up to the challenge.”
Jenkins comes in at a tough time. The roster will be cut to 53 players on Saturday and he was not assured of a spot.
“It's still a matter of me having to prove myself,” said Jenkins. “I'm an older player, 35 years old. I don't expect any gimmies or guarantees or anything. You come in, you prove yourself, you show what you've got and if you do a good job with that you have a chance to stay around.”
He got a clear idea of the challenge ahead of him during his first practice. When they starting calling plays he immediately was lost.
“It was like a foreign language being talked out there,” he said with a smile “I had no clue was was going on.”
He will need to get a clue in a hurry if he wants to stay around.
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