The early reports on San Francisco 49ers rookie A.J. Jenkins were troubling. After the team spent a first-round draft pick on the wide receiver, his suspect conditioning became a popular topic during offseason workouts.
With camp about to open, Jenkins says he's ready to go.
"I've made long strides," he told the Bay Area News Group. "Obviously, I had criticism when I first came in as far as being in shape. That's irrelevant now. I'm just trying to help the team win, whether that's playing special teams, offense or being a real good teammate."
The 49ers are looking for a little more than a good teammate.
Jenkins, who signed a four-year, $6.95 million contract, has huddled with veterans Randy Moss and Mario Manningham for guidance on preparing his body ready for the season.
The rookie said he might eventually hook up with Jerry Rice to run the same hill that painted the Hall of Famer as a workout warrior during his celebrated career. These are good signs.
The 49ers are suddenly deep at wideout, but that doesn't lift the heat off Jenkins. He was critiqued early for failing to stand out in practices, a disappointing development for any player selected in the first round. Jenkins will be watched closely as camp progresses.