METAIRIE, La. — John Jenkins carries nearly 350 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame.
But it’s not his size that stands out after listening to him talk for just a few moments.
It’s the humble demeanor that you notice, the thankful attitude towards those who have guided him through his 24 years.
Midway through training camp in his rookie season, he already has it figured out it’s now time to impress another group – those on a Saints’ roster chockfull of veteran savvy.
“I’m just working,” Jenkins said. “I’m just learning from these vets. No matter what these guys have planned for me, I’m willing to do whatever (they ask).”
The Saints hope that Jenkins’ work makes their draft-day wheeling and dealing to get him worth it. New Orleans sent running back Chris Ivory to the New York Jets for the No. 106 overall pick and then dealt that pick, along with No. 109, to Miami for the No. 82 pick.
His size, though, does stand out on the field. Jenkins is down to 347 or so pounds from nearly 360. While that has helped get off the ball a tick quicker, it hasn’t taken away from what his main role is at nose tackle – eat up blocks along the line and push back into the pocket.
“I know John Jenkins is a real stout guy, I’ve gone against him quite a bit,” starting center Brian de la Puente said. “He is stout, plays with heavy leverage and he will be a good addition to the defense for sure.”
Jenkins doesn’t take talk of his size as a negative; in fact, he’s more than happy to hear players like de la Puente bring it up.
“For those guys to say that it’s a blessing,” Jenkins said. “You got to realize this is a Super Bowl team that I’m on. For them to say that I’m stout means that I’m doing something to improve the team.”
At Georgia, Jenkins earned defensive co-MVP honors as a senior after finishing with 50 tackles, a sack and 14 quarterback pressures from his nose guard position in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense. The Bulldogs allowed only 17 rushing touchdowns in 2012 as Georgia went 12-2, losing in the SEC championship game to eventual national champions Alabama.
In 2011, Jenkins earned the team’s newcomer-of-the-year award after recording 28 tackles, including three sacks and 10 quarterback pressures, while playing all 14 games after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
In fact, that transition from high school to junior college to a Football Bowl Subdivision school is paying dividends now.
“I’m so used to it,” Jenkins said. “Every two years I felt like I was starting over; from junior college to Georgia to here. I’m so used to it. I’m just trying to find my role.”
To listen to coach Sean Payton, however, is to hear a man who believes Jenkins already has found his role.
“He is pretty sudden and explosive,” Payton said. “Those guys have a lot that they are learning, but he is specifically getting most of his snaps at the nose, and his adjustment, so far, has been good. We will see as we keep going.”
His position in New Orleans is similar to, though not quite a mirror image of, his place on Georgia’s line.
“I have a lot more responsibilities,” Jenkins said. “I can do things and if I see things, I can react on them myself instead of just being in an assignment defense. That’s pretty much the difference.”
Not that he’s unwilling to switch up his responsibilities if asked by someone on the field behind him to help out in a different way.
“I like these guys to be able to tap and say, ‘Hey you’re doing your thing. I need this,’ ” Jenkins said. “I’m use to that. I had (Kevin) Ogletree when I was at Georgia who would tell me they need the push up front. I like that responsibility and I like that role.”