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Jenkins Looking To Improve On Injury-Riddled Season

Posted Jan 14, 2016

Linebacker was forced to leave games several times because of problems with his ankle, which he first injured in the game at Philadelphia.

Jelani Jenkins is looking ahead with optimism after what was a disappointing 2015 season for both he and the Dolphins, and the linebacker is hoping he can be part of the solution in helping turn things around.

Jenkins didn’t get a full opportunity to make an impact this past season, as well as build on his breakthrough 2014 campaign, because of an ankle injury that kept popping up.

What Jenkins did show was a lot of fight in trying to line up every week despite having to leave the game several times or getting up slowly because of problems with the ankle, which he first injured in the Nov. 15 game at Philadelphia.

“It was definitely frustrating toward the end of the season having to come in, come out, limp off, limp back on and just doing the best I can,” Jenkins said in an interview with The Finsiders. “It was frustrating and we would have liked to have had more wins, but I’d kill to be out there as much as I can even if I’m on one leg. That’s just football and that’s just what you have to go through.

“I’m always trying to put the best possible film I can out there and help out my teammates as much as possible. As long as they know that and the coaches know that and understand that, everything works itself out. I think moving forward that was good to do.”

In the end, Jenkins was able to start all but three games in 2015, but it was clear he wasn’t operating at 100 percent down the stretch.

Jenkins managed to finish the season with 71 tackles, a total that was tied for fourth on the team.

But remember that Jenkins led the Dolphins in 2014 with 108 tackles after injuries early in the season put him in the starting lineup.

The season began impressively enough for Jenkins, who reached double digits in tackles in the first two games — at Washington and Jacksonville.

Looking ahead, Jenkins certainly would appear to be one of the key pieces on defense.

The former University of Florida standout likes the potential on the team, but as far as the defense goes, he feels it needs to become more consistent.

“I think (the key is) just everybody being on the same page at all times and I think everybody having full trust and confidence in the scheme and the personnel, the people around them, that everyone will be where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there,” Jenkins told reporters the day after the season finale. “There’s a lot of things that just help teams jell in being more consistent, knowing without a doubt that everything is going to go the right way. That’s something we’ve got to work on.

“I think that we do have a lot of talent in here. I don’t know exactly what changes need to be made to be successful, but I think we have a lot of talent. I think we could probably use more, I think we could probably use more guys, but I’m not the one to make that decision.”

For the second consecutive offseason, Jenkins will be going back to the University of Florida. Jenkins completed his classroom work last year; this time he’ll be doing an internship to complete his degree in applied physiology and kinesiology.

“I’ll finally be able to walk and graduate in May,” Jenkins told The Finsiders, “so I’m excited about that.”

Jenkins also indicated he again will be running a football camp in the Washington area in the summer before returning to South Florida for the start of training camp.

Jenkins didn’t get to play in the season finale against the New England Patriots, but he was excited about the 20-10 victory against the AFC East champions and impressed by the work of his replacement in the starting lineup, Neville Hewitt.

“I was excited about how we came out there and played,” Jenkins told The Finsiders. “I was happy with Neville’s performance, coming in, filling my position and the linebackers as a whole, the defense, the offense. It seemed like everything was clicking and I was excited that we were able to leave out with that bang and have some momentum going into 2016.”

For Jenkins and his teammates, the goal now is figuring out a way to produce that kind of performance on a weekly basis once the 2016 regular season arrives.

“I think we had a lot of potential that we didn’t own up to and maximize,” Jenkins said. “It was disappointing and we’ve got to see what we can do better moving forward and just try to get better next year.”

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