Best friends Bill Bentley and Janoris Jenkins to share same field for NFL debuts

Posted Sep 6, 2012

Bentley and Jenkins can expect to have one other thing in common Sunday - they’re both likely to be targeted early and often as rookie cornerbacks.

Bill Bentley had one message for Rams rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins when the two spoke on the phone earlier this week: good luck Sunday against the Lions offense.

“I just told him good luck and be ready to compete because they’re coming after you because you’re a rookie,” Bentley said Wednesday of the conversation.

The amusing part for Bentley was when Jenkins came right back and told him the very same thing.

The two rookie cornerbacks grew up friends in Florida and will play their first professional football game on opposite sides of the same field when the Rams visit Ford Field on Sunday.

“We played all of our sports together growing up coming into high school and we were raised up in the same (neighbor)hood,” Bentley said of Jenkins. “We were always in the same class in high school. We formed a relationship together and we’re like brothers.”

The two, obviously, won’t be on the field at the same time, but they’re still treating Sunday’s matchup as a brother vs. brother matchup.

Bentley and Jenkins grew up in the famed farm town of Pahokee, a city that has just two stoplights, but year-in and year-out produces some of the best football talent in the state. The area lays claim to such NFL talent as Anquan Boldin, Rickey Jackson and Fred Taylor.

The Rams drafted Jenkins in the second round of April’s NFL Draft after he’d dropped because of character concerns surrounding marijuana use. He was widely regarded among many evaluators as the one of the top two cover corners in the draft along with LSU’s Morris Claiborne.

“I don’t think we thought it was risky when we took him,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said in a conference call Wednesday. “We clearly had him rated as one of the top, if not the top corner on the board and when there’s a behavioral issue that you have to check out then they typically fall and we felt like he would fall.

“We did our due diligence. We did our research and at the end of the day we were very, very excited about having the opportunity to draft him. He’s exceeded our expectations at this point. He’s a great young man and he loves football. He’s very intelligent and he’s going to have a great career. He’s a better player on the field than I thought he was going to be at this point.”

That’s a quite an endorsement from a veteran coach in Fisher with 17 years of coaching experience.

The Lions passed on Jenkins, along with 31 other teams in the first round, and he didn’t make it back around for their 54th pick. Instead, the Lions drafted Bentley in the third round. Like Jenkins, Bentley has climbed the depth chart and is expected to be one of the Lions’ two starting cornerbacks on Sunday.

Bentley and Jenkins can expect to have one other thing in common Sunday -- they’re both likely to be targeted early and often as rookie cornerbacks.