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Malcolm Jenkins expands already impressive versatility

This season is Nigel Bradham's sixth in the NFL. 

He's never seen a player as versatile as Malcolm Jenkins. 

"Man, no!" Bradham said. "Not in my career. He's definitely the first. A guy that can play from corner to defensive end pretty much. Seriously. It's amazing, man."

Throughout his time in Philadelphia and in the league, Jenkins has played both safety spots, cornerback and nickel cornerback. On Sunday, Jenkins expanded his versatility even more, playing linebacker in the Eagles' dime package.  

It's not an entirely new position for Jenkins, but it is a little different. The biggest difference is that as a linebacker in the run game, Jenkins has to take on offensive linemen instead of tight ends and running backs. 

It can be tough to get off those blocks. 

"Nah, I get off of them fine," said the ever-confident Jenkins, wearing a smile. 

Over the last two seasons, the Eagles have talked a lot about the versatility they have in their secondary with guys who can play both safety and corner. There hasn't been much talk about safety-linebacker versatility, which defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz called "old school." 

It's not uncommon for teams to use a hybrid safety-linebacker position or to want their safeties to have corner abilities. 

But having a player who can play safety, corner and linebacker? 

"It’s pretty rare to find guys that can do all three," Schwartz said. "Malcolm is one of them."

The Achilles injury to Jordan Hicks sort of opened the door to allow the Eagles to use that dime package a little bit more last week. Had Hicks been healthy, the team likely would have trotted out the nickel package with Hicks and Bradham. 

Jenkins isn't sure if that will be the plan every week; the packages will probably be decided based on matchups. But he was happy to play more in the box against the 49ers. 

"I was kind of whispering for it for a long time," he said. "You want to put your best guys on the field, even if it's sometimes a disadvantage in certain parts. I feel like we do such a good job stopping the run that when we do get to those third downs and run's really not an option, it's better for us to put another DB on the field."

Jaylen Watkins, who is a pretty versatile player himself, is impressed by Jenkins' versatility but not surprised. Like Bradham, Watkins thinks Jenkins can play just about every position on defense, including defensive end if they ever asked him. 

Watkins joked that he wasn't sure Jenkins would be big enough physically to handle playing end, but said the safety would at least know what to do even if he couldn't get it done. 

He wasn't surprised at all to see how well Jenkins acquitted himself as a linebacker. 

"With someone like Malcolm, he's going to study each play and know which guard he's getting," Watkins said. "He's never going into anything blind. That's why giving that job to him was probably a no-brainer for the coaches."

In this dime package, Jenkins has a few different responsibilities. If the opposing team runs the ball, he needs to turn into a linebacker and hit a gap. Other times, he'll be blitzing. And there are times he'll be covering running backs or tight ends. 

What makes Jenkins able to play all these positions is his rare combination of cover skills and toughness. 

"If you ask me about coverage, I think I'm a corner," he said. "If you ask me about run fits, I think I'm a linebacker. It's one of those things I always see it as a challenge."