Michael Jenkins, WR #84
Hometown: Tampa, FL
College: Ohio State
Experience: 9 years
Michael Jenkins was a big receiver with good speed for his size when he completed his eligibility with the Ohio State Buckeyes in the fall of 2003. The Minnesota Vikings took a chance on this former first round draft pick after he was released by the Atlanta Falcons before the start of training camp in 2011.
NFL draft experts pegged him as a physically mature, athletic, possession receiver that could, on occasion, be a deep threat. There were concerns that he lacked top-end speed and had an uncharacteristically high amount of dropped passes as a senior. Yet, the Falcons felt good enough about his upside that they traded up to get a second first round selection at the No. 29 spot in the draft to pick him.
He finally cracked the starting lineup in his second season after hauling in just seven passes as a rookie. He increased his production each season before reaching his current career-high of 53 pass catches in 2007. After that season, his production began to tail off before the Falcons cut ties with him in late July of 2011.
Current Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and wide receivers coach George Stewart worked with Jenkins during their respective tenures with the Falcons coaching staff. Musgrave was with the Falcons from 2006-2010 as quarterbacks coach and Stewart worked more specifically with Jenkins as the receivers coach from 2003-2007.
Jenkins had his most successful seasons in terms of catches (53 in 2007) and touchdowns (seven in 2006) under Stewart. That relationship mostly likely led the Vikings to sign the veteran receiver just a day after his release.
He finished second on the Vikings with 38 receptions his first season with the team and caught the longest pass of the season (72 yards) of anyone on the team. That long play came on the first play of Christian Ponder’s first career start. He also set a career-high 111 receiving yards in that game against the Green Bay Packers. He added 466 yards and three touchdowns while playing just 11 games. He was missed the final five games with a knee injury.
Just over a year after signing a three-year contract with the Vikings, the 30-year-old agreed to a significant decrease in base salary for the 2012 and 2013 season. The deal also includes an increase in his roster bonus if he makes the team in 2013. He got off to a good start in 2012 with a three-catch, 45-yard effort while being targeted five times against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday in the season opener. The belief is that he accepted the salary reduction to secure a spot on the 2012 roster. Whether or not that worked, he made the team and is listed as the first team split end while Jerome Simpson serves a suspension.
He participated in several charities in Atlanta, including the 2009 NFL Back2Camp Weekend (which raises money and awareness for a non-profit organization that keeps children in school) and a Celebrity Footbowl tournament (which raised money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta). He also hosts an annual Christmas event for needy children.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.