Michael Jenkins could have immediate impact for New England
Free agents like Brandon Lloyd, Joey Galloway and Chad Johnson weren’t able to pick up the complicated offense fast enough. This year they brought in two veteran free agent receivers to bolster the wideout group. While Danny Amedola is sure to have an immediate impact on the team, 10 year veteran Michael Jenkins could be a sleeper for the Pats in 2013.
Jenkins, who spent the majority of his career with the Atlanta Falcons and the last two years in Minnesota, has 354 career receptions and 25 career TDs. While those numbers don't just off the page, he's never had a quarterback like Tom Brady throwing him the ball.
He spent the first eight years of his time in the NFL playing in Atlanta, catching passes from an erratic Michael Vick and a young Matt Ryan. Vick was never able to get his receivers truly involved in the Atlanta offense, and by the time Ryan came along Jenkins found himself muddled in the middle of the Falcons' receiver depth chart behind Roddy White, fighting for second tier receptions.
Then, when it seemed like he might finally get a chance to be a featured receiver in Minnesota, he had to spend the last two years watching Christian Ponder getting his feet wet in the NFL. Enough said there.
But now Jenkins has the chance to play with an elite quarterback and for an elite NFL head coach. The time could be now for Jenkins to emerge as a legitimate threat on the outside for New England.
He brings the size you want in an outside receiver at 6'4" and 214 lbs. While his speed has declined in recent years, he has shown the ability to read defenses and find the soft spots where he can get open, and that is the skill the Pats have found difficult to find in their free agent signings.
The others failed not because they didn’t have the physical skills left to play the game, but because the Patriots offense demands that a receiver be on the same page in reading defenses as Brady is. They need to be able to make split second sight reads, adjusting their routes as the defense unfolds during each play.
Wes Welker became the best in the league at this, and that's why he was so productive. It seemed like he was always open because he was able to read the defense after the ball was snapped, and put himself into position to make the catch. Once he gained Brady's trust he became his favorite target, not because he was the fastest player on the field but because he was always the one open.
Jenkins brings a veteran's savvy to the game, and match that with finally having a quarterback in the huddle capable of getting the most out of him, and you could have the beginning of another productive Patriots receiver.
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