Safety Malcolm Jenkins has seen a lot of things change since coming to New Orleans. After being selected as the Saints first round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Jenkins has been coached under two defensive coordinators, played at three different positions and has seen action on special teams and in a starting role.
Jenkins played as a cornerback at Ohio State University before being drafted by the Saints. The former Buckeye contributed as a nickel cornerback and on special teams for the black and gold in his rookie campaign but also saw limited action as a starting cornerback due to an injury to Tracy Porter.
During the offseason following a Super Bowl XLIV victory, Jenkins was approached about making the transition to the safety position and playing along-side Roman Harper. In 2010, Jenkins started 15 games, 12 at the free safety position and three at cornerback.
Last season, the transition was finalized with Jenkins starting all 15 games he played in at free safety. In his first full season at safety, Jenkins ranked second on the team with a career-high 97 tackles (66 solo) while also registering one sack, 11 pass defenses, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
This summer, Jenkins experienced more changes: The Saints hired a new Defensive Coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, Secondary Coach Ken Flajole and Assistant Secondary Coach Andre Curtis.
"Flajole has been a good change for us," said Jenkins. "He is very knowledgeable about the game and knows how to explain things to us. We have a good working relationship that we are continuing to build on. It has been very positive."
One player Jenkins has been impressed with this offseason is third-year cornerback Patrick Robinson. After Porter's departure to the Denver Broncos, Robinson has a chance to earn a starting spot.
Robinson spent most of 2011 as the nickel corner but started five games in the place of Porter. Robinson registered a career-high 54 tackles (42 solo), 15 pass defenses, and four interceptions. The former Florida State Seminole was also able to contribute on special teams with two tackles, a blocked field goal and a blocked PAT.
"Patrick Robinson is going to keep getting better and better every year. He had a breakout season last year and I think he will only improve," said Jenkins. "Jabari Greer is probably our best corner. He had a phenomenal year last year, probably the best of his career. I am excited, we have a great group."
Entering training camp, Jenkins knows that the secondary has to improve overall on its 2011 performance. After finishing tied for 28th in the league in interceptions in 2011, Flajole has spent time with the secondary throughout OTAs and Mini-Camp working on their hands.
"The biggest thing we need to improve on is turnovers," said Jenkins. "We need to trust our instincts and make things happen. We have to take advantage of the opportunities that come."
Even with all of the adjustments throughout his career, Jenkins has been able to establish himself as a leader on the Saints defense. For his career, he has appeared in 44 games with 36 starts while recording 230 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions with one returned for a touchdown, 27 pass defenses, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries over a three year period. Entering 2012, Jenkins wants to perform at his highest level while continuing to take his leadership role.
"My main goal is to work very hard and improve," said Jenkins. "I want to play at my best and get my teammates to play the best they can and live with the results."