TAMPA -- Mike Jenkins played six years in the NFL and rarely missed time because of an injury.
It had become a sense of pride for the Southeast High product and USF All-American when he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the offseason.
Unfortunately his string of good health ran out in Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers when he tore his pectoral muscle. The Bucs placed him on injured reserve, and he is out for the season.
It was particularly crushing for the 29-year-old because he was happy to be back home playing at Raymond James Stadium. He spent last season with the Oakland
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Raiders following five years with the Dallas Cowboys, who selected him in the first round of the 2008 draft.
Jenkins was a free agent and visited several teams, but said he felt a special connection with Bucs head coach Lovie Smith, who seemed to have a mutual feeling.
Now everything will be put on hold. Jenkins was injured in the fourth quarter when he was blocked in the back by former Florida State standout Kelvin Benjamin.
The mishap happened on the 31st play for Jenkins, He and Johnthan Banks were sharing time at cornerback with Alterraun Verner on the other side. Now Banks will be getting a lot of reps.
"You hate to lose a guy like Mike. We didn't have him much in training camp. He got a few snaps in the ballgame and is now out for the season," Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "We are pretty thin right now at cornerback. Johnthan did a lot of good things on Sunday. He will really have to step up now. We need both of them to play well."
Frazier said he eventually expects Rashaan Melvin to return, and the Bucs just acquired Crezdon Butler. Brandon Dixon also is in the picture, but Leonard Johnson will stay a nickel corner.
"We're counting on some other guys that we've signed to come in and help us. Eventually, we expect to get Rashaan back. We need him back; we're getting pretty thin there now," Frazier said. "But we're counting on the guys that we've signed this week, and hopefully they can learn and get on the field and help us if they're called upon."
Jenkins was hoping this season was the start of a new beginning for him. He was tired of what he called globe-hopping and felt the Tampa 2 defense Smith likes to use fit his skills.
"The first chance I got to go into the facilities brought back everything to me, a lot of great memories," Jenkins said before the season. "It was between Tampa Bay and Arizona, and once I went back to Tampa I felt the energy. It was a no-brainer to be home because that's where it started. I have natural adrenalin, but the fan base back home feels good."
Before the Carolina game, Jenkins said it was frustrating to miss all of camp, but it meant a lot that Smith kept him as a starter.
"It shows a lot of from the coaches. It shows they still have trust in me. I feel like when I was out there, I put in enough work. I grind hard," he said. "It's my first time missing a whole camp. A few years ago, I had surgery and still didn't miss camp. It was frustrating not being out there to help the defense get better."
Smith said it was still too early in the week to know what guys might be out this week against the St. Louis Rams. Melvin, Logan Mankins, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Doug Martin and Michael Johnson did not practice Wednesday.
"Johnthan did some good things this past (game). I thought he tackled well. But what he needs to do ---like we all need to do ---is just play better ball," Smith said. "We'll be challenged again this week with our skill guys. Whether it be some of their bigger receivers or some of their small receivers, Johnthan will have a tough matchup each week. It's tough playing corner in the league. Each week, somebody will pose different problems for you. But I wasn't displeased with how he played last week. We all need to play better."