Jenkins aims to get leg up on roster spot


Player realizes getting good distance on kickoffs is key to staying a Raven

August 16, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

J.R. Jenkins knows where his best chance at making the Ravens roster lies.

I think Im focusing on kickoffs the most because there is a legitimate opportunity here, Jenkins said. They kept a guy here last year, and that is mostly my No.1 focus. But No.2, I want to come in here and compete with [Matt] Stover. I want to at least make him better, and just be as competitive as I can with him.

But with Stover being one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, Jenkins needs to put as many kickoffs as he can in the end zone.

Jenkins sent his first kick last night to the 7-yard line. He nailed his next kick 2 yards into the end zone, but the play was nullified because of offsetting penalties. The ensuing kick was a squibber received at the 11-yard line and returned 23 yards.

Jenkins sent his inaugural kickoff as a Raven 5 yards into the end zone against the Detroit Lions in last Fridays preseason opener. It was his longest kick thus far, though Jenkins said the end zone is not always what he's shooting for.

I think it changes from night to night depending on the conditions, Jenkins said. I feel like a good hang time, over four seconds, and I feel like I can consistently hit below the 5-yard line, which to me is a very exceptional kickoff. And you get those occasional touchbacks, which is what you are always looking for. But if you fall short, you want to fall short underneath the 5-yard line.

Last season, the Ravens signed kicker Danny Kight in October after Stover suffered a quadriceps injury that prevented him from kicking off. We've done that in the past, so that is clearly an option, Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Mulitalo rebounds

Offensive tackle Edwin Mulitalo played well last night against Jets linemen Shaun Ellis and Bryan Thomas. Neither Ellis nor Thomas came close to sacking quarterback Chris Redman when lined up against Mulitalo.

Mulitalo was also part of an offensive line that produced 81 first-half rushing yards.

Last week, Mulitalo, who has switched this season from left guard to right tackle, struggled against Lions end Robert Porcher, who had two pressures on Redman.

Cunningham's finale

Randall Cunningham will officially retire from the NFL as a member of the Eagles before the teams preseason home game against the Ravens next Friday.

Cunningham, who spent last season with the Ravens, played with the Eagles from 1985 to 1995. He holds four team records, including most 300-yard passing games (13), most yards passing in a game (447 yards) and longest punt (91 yards).

Cunningham is the NFLs all-time leader in rushing yards among quarterbacks with 4,928.

Et cetera

Cornerback Gary Baxter (hamstring), linebackers Andre Arnold (knee), Rod Taylor (leg) and Peter Boulware (ankle), defensive tackle Josh McKibben (leg) and ends Tony Weaver (ankle) and Michael McCrary (knee) did not play last night. ...Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae, linebacker Marvin Jones, kicker John Hall and end John Abraham did not play for the Jets. ...A member of the Ravens band had to be carried off the field before the game because of heat exhaustion. Former Raven Larry Webster, who signed with the Jets in the off-season, called the coin toss. He suffered a bruised knee early in the second quarter. Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister returned his only first-half punt return 7 yards. ... The Ravens' newly implemented shotgun formation produced its first fumble of the preseason when Casey Rabach sent a snap wide right of Redman. It was recovered by the Jets at the Ravens 29 with 23 seconds left in the first half and led to a field goal. After a quiet preseason opener, Brandon Stokley led all Ravens receivers in the first half with five catches for 47 yards.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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