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Rams face huge task in handling Jets' Jenkins

Defensive tackle has been one-man wrecking crew

BY STEVE KORTE - News-Democrat


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ST. LOUIS -- For an offensive lineman, the challenges don't come any bigger than trying to block 360-pound New York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins.

Proclaimed "a beast" earlier this week by Jets coach Eric Mangini, Jenkins has 24 tackles, seven quarterback pressures, six tackles for a loss and three sacks this season.

Jenkins has plugged the middle of a Jets defense that ranks fourth in the NFL against the run, and has held four of their eight opponents under 50 rushing yards this season.

Moving the immovable object is the challenge facing the St. Louis Rams (2-6) and their potentially patchwork running attack when they play the Jets (5-3) and Jenkins this Sunday at Giants Stadium.

"Based off what I see, he's probably one of the most dominant guys in the league right now," Rams coach Jim Haslett said. "The guy is an unbelievable force. Two, three guys can't block him, stays in on passing situations. He's quick, he's powerful. To me, he's one the best players in the league right now that I've seen."

In the Jets' 26-17 win over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, Jenkins had three tackles, two sacks and three quarterback pressures.

He helped the Jets take a 13-7 lead when his pressure forced a pass by Bills' quarterback Trent Edwards that was intercepted and returned 92 for a touchdown by safety Abram Elam. He also helped stop Bills running back Fred Jackson on a fourth-and-1 on the Jets' 8 to thwart a potential Bills scoring drive in the second quarter.-

"He's two people," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said of Jenkins after the game. "We don't have 11, we have 12 (on defense)."

Rams center Nick Leckey and right guard Richie Incognito will have the task of blocking Jenkins.

"You have to respect the fact that he is playing extremely well this year," Leckey said. "He's playing just amazing football right now. And, he has a great defense behind him, too.

"It's one of those weeks where we just have to watch as much film as you can, be solid in your calls and be solid in your hand placement and technique."

Leckey, who weighs 302 pounds, said playing with good technique will be critical against someone as big and strong as Jenkins.

"It is paramount for me just to be able to get the job done because he is playing well," Leckey said. "He is coming off the ball. He is penetrating, he is slanting and angling and stuff like that. He is doing some great things for sure."

-Leckey said he must use his low center of gravity to his advantage.

"I think it is important to get those first two steps into the ground, and if you are lower than him, you do have a better chance of blocking him," Leckey said.

Incognito said he was looking forward to playing against Jenkins.

"Jenkins is a great player," Incognito said. "He is playing dominating football right now. There is no better test of where we are at as an offensive line than going up against a stud like him."

With Steven Jackson, Antonio Pittman and Travis Minor all potentially sidelined with injuries, the Rams could end up turning to Kenneth Darby and Samkon Gado to play running back against the Jets.

"It doesn't change anything we do," Incognito said of having two running backs who have been on the Rams' roster less than a month. "We still block our butts off to try and get them a little wiggle room to get them into the open field."

Jenkins was chosen as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. He's well aware that those kind of honors usually don't go to nose tackles.

"When I first got here, I totally understood that this was a grunt position, and I just need to do what I have to do to be the best that I can to help the team out," Jenkins said. "That is not something that you think you are going to get from a nose tackle position, so I appreciate it, but still it's like a part of me is in the back of my mind like, 'Ok, you've got to shake that off real quick because you might not see this ever again, so enjoy it for a second, breathe.'"

Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said the addition of Jenkins, who was acquired on Feb. 29 in a trade with the Carolina Panthers for third- and fifth-round picks in the 2008 NFL Draft, has been a major reason for the resurgence of a Jets rushing defense that ranked 29th in the NFL last season.

"I think it's probably due to Jenkins and what he's doing this year," Bulger said. "He could be the Defensive Player of the Year. He is that good right now, he is dominating guys."

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I watched the buffalo game a few times this week. he was really destroying guys out there, at times with one hand !

this isn't blowing sunshine to avoid bulletin board stuff, he is a dominant force

the JETS have a dominant force at NT :box:

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We should have kept the 3rd & 5th round draft choices.

It is ironic. Becomilng a NT was something Jenkins viewed as "taking one for the team," absorbibg blocks and being a "grunt." It seems to have restored his stardom instead. Good for him.

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