As he enters his first NFL training camp, 49ers first-round pick A.J. Jenkins is lucky to be surrounded by a sage group of veteran wideouts like Randy Moss, Ted Ginn Jr., Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree.
Along with his new status as a professional comes some new responsibilities for Jenkins, including the possibility of returning punts. Jenkins was a prolific kick return man during his four-year career at Illinois but handling punts with the swirling winds at Candlestick is another beast to tame. At least he has the benefit of working with a vaunted return man like Ginn and All-Pro punter Andy Lee in practice.
Jenkins said he kept up communication with his veteran teammates throughout the offseason to prepare for the real deal.
“I learned a lot,” Jenkins said. “I talked to them to see what they do to keep their bodies right for camp. I’ve taken a lot of advice from those guys … like a sponge trying to take in everything they’ve told me.”
Ginn declared himself fully healthy on Monday to reporters, three days before the veterans are set to check in to team headquarters. Since stepping back on the practice field, Ginn has helped teach Jenkins the art of fielding punts. He’s also enjoyed returning between the lines after recovering from the injury he incurred during last season’s playoffs.
“This right here was the test – coming here early and getting with these young guys to run around and fly around and do certain things out there to see where I’m at,” Ginn said. “As I’ve been going I can give myself an A-plus right now. So I just need to keep on going through practices and keep doing what I do and I should be fine.”
The sixth-year veteran said he also added about 10 pounds to his frame this offseason without losing any of his breakneck speed.
In 2007, Ginn was a fresh-faced, first-round pick like Jenkins, so he knows some good-natured hazing is in store for the rookie.
“I got abused as a first-rounder in Miami,” Ginn said with a laugh. “But we’re going to get (Jenkins). It won’t be bad, but we’re going to get him.”
Tags: A.J. Jenkins, Ted Ginn Jr.
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