Panthers anticipate Jenkins will attend training camp
Despite continuing unhappiness with his contract situation, and with the team's efforts to trade him during the offseason, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins is expected to be on hand when the Carolina Panthers report for training camp on Friday.
Jenkins, 27, skipped the Panthers' voluntary workouts and organized team activities (OTAs) this spring, but did participate in a mandatory three-day minicamp. He opted to work out on his own and, given Jenkins' track record and history for coming to camp overweight, there are likely concerns in the organization about his conditioning. But club officials seem certain the six-year veteran will not hold out from camp.
"We expect Kris to be there, no question," general manager Marty Hurney, who has kept in close contact with Jenkins' representatives, told local reporters.
Sources close to Jenkins also indicated that, barring a change of heart, he will report to the team's Wofford College training camp site on time.
This has been a typically tumultuous offseason for Jenkins, a three-time Pro Bowl defender whose productivity has been reduced by injuries of late, but who did manage to appear in all 16 games in 2006.
Because of their depth at tackle, and salary cap elements as well, the Panthers floated the possibility of trading Jenkins this spring, and let other teams know he was available for the right price. But the Panthers never got close to trading Jenkins, in part because it's believed no club offered the high-round draft choice they wanted in return, and it's likely now that the former University of Maryland star will remain in Carolina for another season.
And probably under his existing contract.
Jenkins would prefer to have his contract upgraded, and the seven-year, $49 million deal the Detroit Lions signed defensive tackle Cory Redding to last week probably strengthens his desire. But the Panthers aren't likely to acquiesce, and Jenkins will almost certainly have to play under the terms of the six-year extension he signed in 2003.
That deal includes three more seasons, at base salaries of $3.2 million (for 2007), $2.955 million (2008) and $3.71 million (2009).
If he plays to his potential, Jenkins, a second-round pick in the 2001 draft, is well worth the money. At the top of his game, Jenkins can be a dominating interior defender, not only a strong player against the run, but also a guy who can provide some inside push on the pass rush. But because of a shoulder injury in 2004 and a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2005, Jenkins appeared in a total of just five games those seasons.
Even last year, when he played in all 16 games and posted 41 tackles and three sacks, many felt Jenkins was not up to his previous form, despite earning his third Pro Bowl berth.
Still, for a Carolina defense that also features excellent tackles Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis and ranked 11th in the league in 2006 in stopping the run, having Jenkins in camp on time figures to be a plus.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com
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