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Size Aside, Jenkins Can Be Impressive : Football: Former Cal State Fullerton standout hopes quickness and instinct will put him on the Ram defensive line.

HOW THEY'RE DOING: One in a series

May 28, 1992|JOHN WEYLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Chuck's practices were gruesome," Jenkins said. "Practice in Pittsburgh is pretty much full go all the time. A guy leg-whipped me. I don't think he meant to do it, it was just reaction.

"It was just a sprain and I got healthy pretty quick, but the way the roster was, they didn't put me back on right away. They only had one move left before the playoffs, so they didn't use it until the end of the season."

Jenkins returned for the season finale. It was the last time he has played in a regular-season NFL game. Last year, he injured his right knee again, during an exhibition game against the Redskins and the Steelers eventually released him.

Jenkins, wiping sweat from his brow after a recent workout at Rams Park, assures that his knee is fine now. He says the knee is strong, and he's focused on making the most of the second chance the Rams provided when they signed him as a free agent this spring.

"The knee is good," he said. "I've been working with one of the best trainers around, Gary Tuthill, every day. I didn't have any problems with it in mini-camp, so I'm back and feeling good."

Dyer hopes so. He would love to see Jenkins become another Rufus Porter, the 6-1, 226-pound former special teams specialist who evolved into a starter under Dyer's tutelage at Seattle.

"It got to the point where we couldn't afford to keep Porter off the field," Dyer said. "And if you're realistic about Jenkins, you'd have to say he's undersized, but he's a tough kid and he plays hard. And his pass-rushing ability, I mean the guy can light it up on the pass rush."

Those kinds of compliments are nice--especially when they're delivered by a guy who will have a say in deciding your future--but Jenkins knows he is a long way from making the Rams' final roster.

"Since I'm a small defensive end, I'm going to have to really prove I can play," Jenkins said. "There are plenty of guys out here who are the right size and height, so if everything else was equal, they'd have the advantage.

"I've got to prove my quickness allows me to play the position. I wouldn't have much of a chance otherwise. Those 300-pound offensive lineman would blow me 30 yards down the field."

Jenkins hopes to spend a good portion of the summer in some quarterback's face, but he doesn't intend to rest on his pass-rushing laurels.

"That's the place I'm going to make my mark, but I think I'll have to do some other things to make this team," he said. "I can also play on every special team and I was ranked way up there in special teams at Pittsburgh.

"Anything I can do."

And Jenkins has already figured out one thing not to do. He won't be hanging out with Gilbert, who's 6-4 and 317 pounds.

"If I stand near him," Jenkins says, "I look like a bug next to an 18-wheeler."

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