Saints GM 'pessimistic' on negotiations with rookie Jenkins

METAIRIE, La. -- With first-round pick Malcolm Jenkins missing his fourth day of training camp because of his contract holdout Monday, the likelihood he cracks the New Orleans Saints' starting lineup shrinks.

The Saints already feature three NFL-ready starting cornerbacks in Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter and Randall Gay.

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"You want your first-round pick in camp, so I don't know that it's ever easy to swallow," Payton said. "The key is getting all your best players in and having the competition, but right now we practice with who's here and we're really just missing one guy."

Contract negotiations between the Saints and Jenkins' agent Ben Dogra have left team general manager Mickey Loomis "pessimistic" about a deal being reached.

Jenkins was the 14th overall pick out of Ohio State. Washington defensive end Brian Orakpo, the 13th pick, and Houston linebacker Brian Cushing, the 15th pick, share the same representation as Jenkins -- and they are both signed and in camp.

Payton probably would be more on edge if he didn't like the depth the Saints have at corner on the practice field. Payton says the addition of Greer and the return of a healthy of Porter and Gay, the Saints now have the best depth at the position since Payton has been in New Orleans.

"We've got three guys (with the first team) that have started in the NFL and played well when they've been in there," Saints secondary coach Dennis Allen said. "There's some guys behind them who continue to get better day in and day out. We've got a pretty good group of guys to work with."

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Porter is coming off a fractured right wrist that sidelined him most of his rookie season in 2008. Porter started in Week 1 and through the next four games until the injury landed him on injured reserve in Week 6.

"I'm still protecting it with the wrist brace," Porter said. "Other than that, I'm going out there like I had never had the injury. If you let the injury linger in your mind and you try to protect it, it's possible you could injure something else."

Porter, the Saints' second-round pick in last year's draft, will likely return to his starting role in the base defense opposite Greer, allowing Gay to play the nickel spot.

Greer has already made plays during training camp to wow Saints fans in attendance. He signed with the Saints this offseason after spending his first five seasons in Buffalo- the last two as the full-time starter.

"(Greer) plays the game like a professional," Allen said. "He studies the game. He understands splits and route combinations on top of the fact that he's got excellent speed and excellent quickness."

Those battling for backups jobs include Leigh Torrence and Jason David, who led the Saints last season with five interceptions.

"The best thing we've got going on right now in the back end is competition, and that's going to make us all better," Allen said.

The plethora of solid cornerbacks in camp hasn't left the Saints in a lurch despite Jenkins' absence. It may be leaving Jenkins without a place to play, though.

"When I first started, you had two three-day minicamps so if a guy wasn't there, you really couldn't do a lot of installation back in the old days," Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. "Now, you have a lot of (organized team activities) and (Jenkins) was able to make a healthy number of the OTAs. He has a good, firm grasp of what we're doing.

"Obviously I want him here as soon as he can but that's just a part of this business. I really don't worry about that. I worry about the guys that are here getting coached. Once he gets here, he's going to have to compete and interview just like them and get ready to go."

Notes:Saints RB Reggie Bush missed his third practice of training camp with swelling in his left knee. It's the same knee Bush needed to have surgically repaired last season. "I don't think it's anything significant, but it's significant enough that I don't want it to prohibit him from more than just a practice or two," Payton said about Bush's injury. ... LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (hamstring) and TE Dan Campbell (knee) also missed both practices Monday DT Kendrick Clancy (back spasms) returned to practice after missing the past two sessions.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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