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Saints' Jenkins is a key factor in defensive resurgence

NEW ORLEANS - When it comes to Saints players in the final year of their contracts, tight end Jimmy Graham has gotten a lot of attention.  But he's not the only player playing well in a contract year.

Like Graham, safety Malcolm Jenkins is scheduled to be a free agent next season. Also like Graham, he's playing the best football of his career, although he insists a new contract is not a part of his motivation.

"My biggest focus is just putting my best stuff on tape and really just getting better," Jenkins said. "This is one of those years where I feel like the locker room, we have something special, and I want to be a huge part of that."

Jenkins certainly is a part of that.  In fact, he's done a little bit of everything for the new-look Saints defense through six games.

His 29 tackles is fourth on the Saints. His two-and-a-half sacks is third on the team. His one interception is second on the team, and his two forced fumbles lead the team.

His head coach has noticed his efforts and pointed to his versatility as a big reason for his recent success.

"He can take several packages, and in one play a certain position - maybe a nickel covering down in slot - and in another package play is the back third or the back half," Sean Payton said.  "So he's got good football instincts, and I think he's got exceptional leadership skills and is doing very well."

"I think I'm getting the most production I've had partly because I've played a little bit more of a role this year being able to play the nickel and being around the football a little bit more," Jenkins said. "So definitely one of my more productive years."

It couldn't come at a better time.


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