IRVING, Texas - Cornerback Mike Jenkins had very little to say to the media upon his return to Valley Ranch on Tuesday.
His actions – attending this week's mandatory minicamp after choosing to rehab his surgically-repaired shoulder back home in Florida during voluntary workouts – meant more to the Cowboys than anything he could have said to the cameras.
"He's a pro. Like all pros, he came here ready to work," secondary coach Jerome Henderson said. "He was bright-eyed, he was attentive and he did everything he was supposed to do. He's here being the pro that we expect him to be."
The club has tried to dispel speculation about Jenkins' future since crowding the cornerback position by investing $50.1 million in free agent Brandon Carr and trading up in the first round to draft No. 6 overall pick Morris Claiborne.
Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he had a "good visit" with Jenkins and insisted again Tuesday that he will not be traded, citing the value of having four quality cornerbacks (Jenkins, Carr, Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick).
If Jenkins indeed stays in Dallas for the final year of his 2008 rookie contract, the Cowboys believe they'll have a solid rotation to counter the league's best passing attacks, including Eli Manning and the world champion Giants.
Questions about Jenkins' role persist, but the real issue for the Cowboys is getting him healthy.
Jenkins did some light jogging on the sideline as part of his ongoing rehab from January shoulder surgery. All along, the club did not anticipate his return before training camp in July/August. Head coach Jason Garrett said Jenkins had a "pretty complicated surgery" to repair damage from a dislocation he suffered against the Giants last Dec. 11.
The Cowboys have remained in contact with Jenkins about his rehab but preferred he do it in Dallas under the supervision of their medical and athletic training staff.
"We've had conversations encouraging him to be here," Garrett said. "We can't demand any player to be here (for voluntary workouts). We made sure that his rehab situation was the right one when he wasn't here and now it's a mandatory situation. He's back and he's here.
"We don't see it as a big deal. He would not be able to practice anyway. We're going to try to coach him as best he can right now in the rehab stage of his development and certainly when he gets back on the field."
Jenkins would have been subject to team fines for missing mandatory workouts like this week's minicamp, the last organized team work before training camp begins in late July in Oxnard, Calif.
"I think for him he's got to do what he thinks is right, but at the same token he understands that he's part of the team," quarterback Tony Romo said. "I expect Mike to have a great season. He's been a great player for us and I'm excited about having him back."
Jenkins has started at right corner since early in the 2009 season. Last year he was arguably the club's most consistent corner, recording 10 pass breakups and one interception in 12 games despite dealing with neck, knee, hamstring and shoulder injuries.
For now, the injury prevents him from working on the field with Henderson, hired in January to replace Dave Campo and Brett Maxie. In addition to their new corners, the Cowboys also have a new safety (Brodney Pool) working with the first-team defense.
"For him it's just getting back and moving around and getting healthy," Henderson said. "If he can do that first, all the other stuff will take care of itself. We all know what a good player he is."
Clearly, the club feels mental reps at Valley Ranch are better than nothing.
"It is good to have him out here," Jones said. "Our guys got a good chance to see how he's been rehabbing.
"He needs to get well and rehab, but he's aligned right with everything that I'm aligned with and the Cowboys are aligned with: get in here, have a big year, play with a great bunch, distinguish themselves."