Maybe, as the New Orleans Saints entered the offseason, there was a twinge of uncertainty as to whether the organization would commit to cornerback Janoris Jenkins for the 2020 season.
There was no such trepidation for Jackrabbit.
Jenkins – he earned the nickname “Jackrabbit” during his college career at the University of Florida – knew New Orleans was the place for him just 20 days after the Saints claimed him off waivers Dec. 16.
New Orleans didn’t win its NFC Wildcard playoff game against Minnesota in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that day, but the organization had won over Jackrabbit.
“The atmosphere,” Jenkins said. “The coaches. The vibe. Before the game even started, I had a whole different mind-set just coming out of the tunnel.
It’s jet black, all you see is cameras flashing. The first thing in my head was, ‘Man, I should have been here from the start.’ It doesn’t always plan out how you want it to pan out. But I’m there and I was like, as soon as I ran out of the tunnel, I told myself, ‘I belong here.’
“It was the atmosphere, the fans. Just everything. I just felt so excited, as far as being with a winning program. All that played a nice part in it. I felt like I was at home. I was ready.”
Jenkins was as ready as any Saint defensive player against the Vikings; he forced a fumble (recovered by then-teammate Vonn Bell), posted half a sack and had eight tackles. In two regular-season games with New Orleans, he had an interception, two passes defensed and seven tackles.
For the Giants last season, in 13 games before he was waived, Jenkins had four interceptions, and 14 passes defensed. He proved to be a play-maker in 113 career games with the Rams and Giants: 22 interceptions, 105 passes defensed, six forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered and two sacks.
The Saints anticipate that level of play-making for a corner that New Orleans intends to let loose in press coverage. Jenkins signed a two-year contract extension this offseason.