Cullen Jenkins has somewhat of a quiet presence on the New York Giants right now. Within a defensive line full of youthful players, Jenkins stands out as a shrewd veteran. He's the only one of the group over 30 years old, and the Giants are one of four professional teams he has played for, including the Cologne Centurions of the now defunct NFL Europe. That last part should be the biggest indicator of his age.
Jenkins' current role with the team is being a reliable, experienced hand to show the younger guys how to conduct themselves both on and off the field. He spoke to reporters on Friday and offered up some insight into the hot-button issues circulating the team right now.
Naturally, the questions about Jason Pierre-Paul and his fireworks incident took precedence over more trivial matters.
"Just concerned, hoping he is all right. [...] I have talked to him, little quick conversations. [...] I mean I didn't ask him too much. The biggest concern was asking him how he was doing. He sounded in good spirits [...] That is something that I can't speculate on what his situation is. I'm not fully aware of what is going on, so as teammates we are hopeful that he will be back here with us at some point," Jenkins said.
He later elaborated on the defensive line as a whole, and his answer reflects that of a man who sees the bigger picture rather than focusing solely on the here and now. Amidst minute-by-minute online updates about Pierre-Paul, it's refreshing to see that the players have kept a sense of perspective on the situation.
"We have a lot of very capable players on the defensive line. JPP is obviously the name on this defensive line. He is a star or that type of player that is really hard to replace," Jenkins said.." As a team, we just [have] to approach this camp like we would approach it even if he [were] here. Our emphasis has to be on getting better, each player individually, and doing whatever we can do to help this team."
In the most literal sense of the word, Jenkins finished up with a little teaser of his position and alignments for 2015. He was signed away from the Philadelphia Eagles two years ago. This spring the Giants used him at both defensive tackle and defensive end.
"I go back and forth wherever I am needed most and wherever they put me, I'll play.[...] I'm sure they will work me back and forth to make sure I'm getting reps at both [defensive end and defensive tackle," Jenkins said.
Does he have a preference?
"Yeah, I have a preference, but I'm not going to tell you," Jenkins said.
The 34-year-old was an undrafted free-agent was picked up by the Green Bay Packers in 2003 and has appeared in 153 NFL games. It's clear that he knows a thing or two about versatile technique, career longevity and the ability to work the media. Heading into his final year of what may be his last contract, Jenkins seems eager to show everyone he still has a couple of tricks up his sleeve.