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Michael Jenkins looking to stand out among crowded group of new wide receivers

07.28.13 at 5:47 pm ET
By
Michael Jenkins (AP)

Michael Jenkins (AP)

FOXBORO — The most compelling position battle for the Patriots this offseason is the one at wide receiver, because there are so many unknown parts in play.

Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, who top two receivers for New England last year in terms of receptions, are now gone, along with fellow wide receivers Deion Branch and Donte Stallworth — leaving Julian Edelman as the only receiver on the roster who caught a pass from Tom Brady last season.

Now, the Patriots are looking for replacements for the veterans, and will likely give increased roles to rookies Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Kenbrell Thompkins among others. With all of the youth in the group of receivers, nine-year veteran Michael Jenkins has his work cut out for him to stand out in training camp.

“Everybody is grinding,” Jenkins said. “Everybody is competing and everybody is getting better. I’m just trying to do my role, make plays and make the most of my opportunity.”

After spending his first seven seasons with the Falcons, Jenkins played in 27 games for the Vikings over the past two seasons, totaling 78 receptions for 915 yards over that span. Since joining the Patriots this offseason, he has made sure to be around Brady as often as he can be, trying to quickly build a rapport with the quarterback.

Jenkins, who has not shown great speed this summer, did not have his best day of practice Sunday, dropping multiple passes. (In 2012, Jenkins only dropped two passes on 66 targets.) After each drop Sunday, Jenkins did push-ups before getting back in line for the drill.

“That’s just a little thing for myself is to do some pushups, penalizing myself for a drop,” Jenkins said. “You bounce back, come back and make the next play and keep going. … There are always ups and downs throughout training camp. You catch 1,000 balls and hopefully you keep your drops and the ones that hit the ground to a very minimum.”

Even with the drop though, Jenkins did have one nice grab down the sideline over cornerback Justin Green. He has the size to be an effective receiver on the outside and looked better in one-on-one drills than he did in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills.

“It’s good for competition going one-on-one,” Jenkins said. “Sometimes you kind of get lost in the 11-on-11 and you’re not getting the ball. You’re running your routes, but it’s good to go one-on-one and really work your craft. [The defensive backs are] working and we’re working, and they’re doing a good job.”

While Jenkins is focused on making the final roster, he noted that the rookie receivers have been good for the Patriots since arriving in New England this offseason.

“They are just working hard, getting better, taking notes, being good communicators and doing everything they can every play,” Jenkins said. “That’s all you can ask for. We are just all working hard together to get better and get on that same page with Tom and the other quarterbacks.”

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