Michael Jenkins' knee feels 'good,' but spot with Vikings not secure
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Michael Jenkins pronounced himself fully recovered from knee surgery on Monday. Now he just has to worry about making the Minnesota Vikings roster.
"It's kind of my first ever injury like that," Jenkins said. "But it's good now."
The 30-year-old receiver suffered a torn meniscus in one of his knees on Nov. 27 at Atlanta and had surgery the following week. He remained hobbled through last month's minicamp but has looked more like his old self since training camp began on Friday.
"He looks a lot better than he did in our offseason program," coach Leslie Frazier said over the weekend. "He struggled during that period of time."
Drafted 29th overall in 2004 by the Falcons and released after the NFL lockout ended in July, Jenkins quickly got a three-year deal with a $2 million signing bonus from the Vikings, who were desperate for a receiver familiar with new coordinator Bill Musgrave's offense.
He caught 38 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games (seven starts) before the injury. But new additions at the position -- signing Jerome Simpson, drafting Greg Childs and Jarius Wright in the fourth round out of Arkansas -- have cast doubt on Jenkins' ability to make a rebuilding team as a backup with a $2.5 million base salary.
"It feels like it's a lot more" depth, Jenkins said. "Bringing in the young guys from Arkansas, bringing in Jerome from Cincinnati just adds playmakers on the field for us. It's exciting to see everybody out there making plays."
Since training camp began, Jenkins often has joined Simpson and Percy Harvin with the first string in the Vikings' three-wide sets -- reps that went in the offseason to second-year pro Stephen Burton, who is on the non-football injury list with a toe injury.
Simpson's three-game suspension to start the season could help Jenkins' chances, too, but he doesn't bring much speed to the split end position and the Vikings would be on the hook for his full salary if he's on the roster in Week 1.
Asked if he's had any setbacks with the knee, Jenkins said, "No, not really. They say it's pretty typical for what I had. So, it's just kind of staying on top of it and not getting lazy with it and being ready to go for camp."
Jenkins missed only four games in his first six NFL seasons before sitting out five with Atlanta in 2010, when he was sidelined by a shoulder injury to open the season. The knee injury, Jenkins said, was in an entirely different category.
"I was hoping I could make it my whole career without it," Jenkins said. "But if that's the only one I ever get, I'll take that any day. It's good to be back and running back at full speed."