Cowboys CB Jenkins making most of opportunity

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Mike Jenkins is getting coached by a Pro Bowler, and getting compliments from another one.

With Terence Newman sidelined by a groin injury, Jenkins -- the second of the Cowboys' two first-round picks -- has been receiving extra snaps and starting preseason games. Newman has been guiding him along the way.

Making an impression

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Cowboys coach Wade Phillips is pleased with rookie cornerback Mike Jenkins:

" On some players, you'd worry because he didn't start out well in the game, had some problems. But Mike Jenkins is a competitor. ... He keeps competing and he doesn't get down on himself. He has some confidence."

"He's been a lot of help to me, ever since he went down," Jenkins said. "He's definitely on my back all the time. ... It's starting to get annoying. He's in my ear more than (secondary coach Dave) Campo, more than the coach."

Jenkins was smiling when he said that, appreciative of the help he is getting from the Pro Bowler -- the regular starting left cornerback whose spot he has been filling since Newman got hurt three weeks ago.

"That shows a lot of class, a lot of guys wouldn't do that," Jenkins said. "The day he went down, he came back to practice from doing treatment and he has stayed on me ever since then."

But Jenkins won't start Friday night in the Cowboys' preseason home opener against Houston.

Dallas coach Wade Phillips said Wednesday night, after the team held an open practice before more than 20,000 fans at Texas Stadium, that Adam "Pacman" Jones will start at left corner instead.

Jones, who missed the 2007 season while serving an NFL suspension and has not yet been reinstated for the regular season, has been working primarily on the right side behind Anthony Henry. But Phillips said Jones "has shown he can play. He needs to play some more." Jenkins will still get plenty of snaps.

Newman is expected to be back in time for the Sept. 7 season opener, and maybe even the final preseason game next week.

On the practice field, Jenkins has made quite an impression on Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens.

"He has great feet, good technique. It's all about going out, getting a feel, getting some reps and having himself feel comfortable out there," Owens said. "Once he does that, he's going to be one of the best corners in the league."

When somebody asked Owens if he really meant that, T.O. answered affirmatively.

"It makes me feel real good, a receiver of that caliber praising me and just saying good things," Jenkins said. "Definitely, it makes me want to go out there and work hard. It shows a lot of people are believing in me, not just on the defensive side. ... It builds up my confidence more than it is."

The Cowboys chose Jenkins 25th overall, three picks after they got Arkansas running back Felix Jones.

In Dallas' loss last weekend, Jenkins was beaten by Denver's Brandon Marshall for a 3-yard touchdown. It was a play in which Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler rolled out, meaning Jenkins could have done more to defend Marshall without a penalty.

"I learned after the game, when I got schooled on that in the end zone, that once the quarterback rolls out of the pocket, I can pretty much steer the receiver where I want to," Jenkins said. "I'm just learning all the rules right now."

It's much different from his time at South Florida, when Jenkins was "just not even touching the receiver past 5 yards" under more stringent NCAA rules.

"On some players, you'd worry because he didn't start out well in the game, had some problems," Phillips said. "But Mike Jenkins is a competitor. ... He keeps competing and he doesn't get down on himself. He has some confidence.

"I think it was good he played against top competition and had some troubles, because then he can go back and look at it," Phillips said. "I think he got better and better."

Notes: LB Anthony Spencer had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Wednesday and is expected to be out two-to-four weeks. Phillips said Spencer's knee "kept getting irritated" every time the linebacker tried to get back on the field. ... The Cowboys were already without nickel linebacker Kevin Burnett, who had surgery on his left knee last week.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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