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Malcolm Jenkins Starting Fast At Safety

Posted May 30, 2014

As the defense currently stands, the projected starting lineup includes 10 returning players. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, then, is the lone newcomer as he transitions to the Eagles after spending the first five seasons of his career with the New Orleans Saints.

When the Eagles signed Jenkins earlier this offseason, head coach Chip Kelly lauded Jenkins' versatility and the safety's intelligence and ability to lead a defense. So as Jenkins works with his new teammates for the first time on the field, Kelly was asked for his early impressions of the team's biggest free-agent acquisition this offseason.

"He's been outstanding," Kelly said. "I think he's an extremely intelligent football player and that obviously showed just from the first day we got a chance to get on the field with them. He's played multiple positions before in this league. So he understands the stress on the corners and what that is. I think sometimes for a safety, you can explain that to them. He's actually played it and understands it really well.

"When you've watched (Jenkins) out there, it feels like he's been in the system for a while. Good understanding. The only thing for Malcolm being able to communicate. You called it like this in New Orleans. We called it like this. He's picked it up quickly."

Wiping clean his mental slate of terminology has, indeed, been Jenkins' biggest challenge thus far.

"I think the hardest part is just getting the verbiage down," Jenkins said Thursday. "Really, each defense is like learning a new language, but as far as schemes and responsibilities, defense is defense. I pick up on that stuff quickly. It's really just learning the hand signals and the verbiage."

A two-time defensive captain for the Saints, Jenkins now must also acclimate to a new group of teammates as he aims to help lead the defense.

"At first, you feel like a kid when it's the first day of school, but you jell really quickly, especially with the quality of guys that we have in the locker room," Jenkins said. "It's been really easy getting used to the older guys and trying to help out the younger guys. You still feel each other out and we're learning as we're going, but I think it's been really easy for me."

In his first change of NFL scenery, there is one other big adjustment for Jenkins beyond the new terminology and fresh faces. After five seasons learning how things were done by the Saints, Jenkins is quickly learning how things are done the "Chip Kelly way." The up-tempo, high-rep practices, for instance, have been interesting for Jenkins.

"Yeah, they're very different, the pace and amount of reps you get in practice is a high volume," Jenkins said. "And they do a great job of taking care of us as well, taking care of our bodies, making sure we're recovered, making sure guys aren't injured. So it's a unique way to get a lot of reps without getting anybody hurt and I think that's a fine line that you walk and they found a really cool way of doing it.

"I'm already 100 percent all the time anyway, and this is one of those things you can't really dip your toe. You kind of dive right in and trust that it'll work. I think everybody trusts Chip and what he's trying to do, because he broke down his vision for us. So we know where we're trying to go, what the goals are, so I think everybody dives in and the young guys follow."

Finally, with Jenkins set to start, the one starting spot on the defense that appears to be a true head-to-head competition that will be decided over the next few months is the race to start alongside Jenkins between Nate Allen and Earl Wolff. Allen is currently working with the first-team defense, but Jenkins has already been impressed with both candidates

"I think it's very early right now," Jenkins said. "I think Nate has done a good job just knowing the defense and getting lined up and I know Earl is hungry to get on the field. He's a young player with a lot of talent. I think once he learns the game and offensive concepts and how he can really just add the nuances of the game to his skillset, I think he'll be a really good player. So I think it's too early to tell. Obviously they're still competing and I think they're both doing very well early."

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