NEW ORLEANS, LA — Safety Malcolm Jenkins' return to the New Orleans Saints in the 2020 NFL season has been a success story to date.
He previously played for the Saints from 2009 to 2013, winning one Super Bowl. Besides being a star, during his earlier tenure, Jenkins intensified his critical work and presence in the New Orleans Community.
He awarded scholarships through the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation and spoke out against social, economic and racial injustices. He also helped the Saints win the NFC South Division title for the fourth consecutive year.
The safety finished his twelfth season with a career-high-tying three interceptions, a career-high-tying 2.5 sacks, ten passes defended, which is his most since '15. Jenkins also accumulated seven tackles for loss, most since the 2015 season, along with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, six quarterback hits, and 91 tackles.
Still, despite the successes, Jenkins still felt awkward. It's because COVID-19 shut everything down, then protocols and precautions often follow the match.
"Last year was a bit awkward for me because everything was shut down, we were kind of in isolation as players trying to get through the season," Jenkins said. "I didn't really get a chance to get out in the city.
"Now things are starting to open back up, I'm looking forward to getting around the people, the sights and what I missed since I've been gone."
Jenkins is also looking forward to getting back on the field. First of all, New Orleans ended last season disappointed with a loss to division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional playoff round. Then, Jenkins and his secondary mates will also have a new coach entering 2021.
Longtime Saints' secondary coach Aaron Glenn departed after last season to become defensive coordinator for Detroit. Replacing him is Kris Richard, who won a Super Bowl in that position with Seattle back in Super Bowl XLVIII.
"A lot of defense is about intensity and coverage," Jenkins said. "He is someone that is going to push this group bringing that intensity, a group that has a ton of potential. It needs somebody to always be pushing the best out of us. I think he's going to be a good addition."
Jenkins then asked if Richard's intensity matched that of Glenn, who often appeared to be as involved in practice just like the defensive backs. He then said that the new coach brings more involvement and intensity than before.
"A.G. is former player intense," Jenkins said. "A.G., you think is going to come out of the locker room with a helmet on. But Kris has come out here with cleats on like a player (laughter). All you have to point in the direction of where you want us to run (laughter), but he's out here, he feels like he's in it.
"That's what you want as players. You want to feel your coach is invested in it as much as you all the way to drill work, to individual, to what you're doing in a game."