Janoris Jenkins said all the right things. Almost.
He spoke about coming to the Giants, about how he wants to provide a spark on defense comparable to what Odell Beckham Jr. gives on offense. He said he wants to lead by example, not through words. He said he and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are “going to be something special” and how they would “build together.” He even called new head coach Ben McAdoo a “cool guy.” All normal free agent patter.
But then he spoke about where he thinks his game needs to improve.
“I think to myself I can probably improve on stop being lazy at the end of games or whatever,” he said on a conference call on Thursday.
For a cornerback who just signed a five-year, $62.5 million deal with $29 million guaranteed earlier in the day, making him the second highest-paid corner in the NFL, “lazy” may be the most disgraceful four-letter word he could have used. And for a team who lost a stomach-churning number of games in the final minutes last season, it’s probably not a label they want attached to one of their three defensive saviors that cost the Giants close to $200 million.
Asked to explain his self-perceived shortcoming, Jenkins followed up.
“Just relaxing, thinking about [teams] not coming to my side,” he said. “Just focusing more on the game.”
Can that be improved?
“It’s just a mindset, a mind thing,” he said. “It’s easy to control. Playing on this level, some things are going to happen and you just have to improve.”
Candid? Yes. Honest? Maybe too much. Accurate? The Giants had better hope not.
Jenkins will have plenty of time to make sure the “lazy” tag he stuck on himself does not linger. He’ll have to prove it on the field in training camp and in the regular season. But for a player who has had maturity issues in his past, it was a frightening word to hear. The Giants are not paying him to be lazy at the end of games, the beginning of games, or at any point in any games.
He does seem to recognize that.
“I feel the pressure,” he said of his big contract. “Coming to an organization like this, you are always going to feel the pressure. But I’m going to come out and work and get better.”