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RUSH TO GLORY : Former Titan Jenkins Hopes to Fill Need for Steelers' Defense

August 19, 1989|From Associated Press

LATROBE, Pa. — A.J. Jenkins, the Pittsburgh Steelers' ninth-round draft from Cal State Fullerton, would like to help cure the team's pass-rushing problems.

"I sure hope I can do something," Jenkins said. "I'm going to do the best job I can because I know the pass rush is a real important part of the game."

Jenkins, 6-feet-2 and 237 pounds, had 12 1/2 sacks in his two seasons at Fullerton. As a sophomore at Merced Junior College, he had 16 sacks in one season.

Jenkins registered his first National Football League sack, and the team's only one, with 38 seconds remaining in the Steelers' 21-14 exhibition loss to the Washington Redskins.

The Steelers desperately need Jenkins to pressure opposing quarterbacks, particularly with two starters, Gerald Williams and Keith Willis, hampered by injuries.

"A.J. likes to rush the quarterback," defensive line coach Joe Greene said. "When he's in pass coverage, he sees a lot of things that are going on. He's a very instinctive ballplayer. He has a lot of talent, but he's still inexperienced.

"But I think he is going to help us, not only in the pass rush, but overall. He has some great pass-rushing possibilities. But it's an injustice to consider him the answer to our pass rush."

Jenkins, a defensive end at Fullerton, has been moved to right outside linebacker by the Steelers.

Linebackers coach Dave Brazil said the position switch was a dramatic one at first for Jenkins.

"He had never covered the pass in his life," Brazil said. "But he's picked things up and he's been doing it pretty well. He's on schedule."

Jenkins also is pleased with his progress.

"I think I need to touch up some things on my down tight end position at outside linebacker," he said. "I got blown off the ball a little bit (against Washington). I'm working on that now. But for the most part, I've been happy with my play at outside linebacker."

The Steelers have found a way to utilize Jenkins' pass-rushing skills. He lines up at right defensive end in the team's nickel defense.

"He's a good pass rusher and has good pursuit. He has good instincts, too," Brazil said.

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