After having his shoulder replaced with tinfoil, duct tape and a flattened Cheez-Its box, Michael Jenkins is back in action. We like to rag on Jenkins here, but I am glad to have him back.
It does beg the question of his role when he returns. Harry Douglas had an unexpected five week audition for the starting job and put up decent numbers, hauling in 11 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he didn't develop great timing or a great rapport with Matt Ryan, so he'll return to the slot after leaving Jenkins' roster spot toasty warm. Nice of him, at least.
What I think Jenkins will offer against the Eagles is a tall target with enough speed to defenses honest, and he'll be matched up against either the 5'9" Ellis Hobbs or the 5'10" Asante Samuel. After reading a lot about Randy Moss's role in the New England offense earlier this season, I've realized that the true value Jenkins offers in this offense is as a decoy. Teams can't afford to take him lightly because he's got a reputation as being reasonably sure-handed in league circles (he's average, really), and so they have to commit resources that might otherwise go toward Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez or even Harry Douglas. He's also generally fast enough to get open a few times a game, meaning he may be a distraction for Eagles' defenders sitting back in a zone.
Of course, he's not so terrible as a pass catcher that his return will do nothing in that regard. Against the Eagles' so-so defense, he could easily haul in three passes and make a little noise in the red zone, where his height becomes a much bigger advantage for the Falcons. He's not going to miraculously "rescue this offense—if it even needs rescuing—but he'll be a sorely needed contributor.
Caleb Rutherford's going to hit you with a debate post about Jenkins later this week, so I won't get too heavy into his prospects as a Falcon over the next several weeks, months and years. I do think he'll be a valuable player this week against the Eagles, and that would go a long way toward getting the Falcons' offense untracked.