He’s back. Maybe.
Penn sprint football junior quarterback Eddie Jenkins returned to practice this week after an extended layoff due to a left knee injury. The junior, who is also a team captain, is potentially poised to return on Friday night in what will be a game-time decision as Penn takes on Army at West Point.
“[The knee] is feeling a lot better,” Jenkins said. “Hopefully I should be able to go sometime soon.”
Jenkins has not played since injuring his knee in the first quarter of the Quakers’ 16-7 win over Cornell three weeks ago. He was held out of the following week’s game against Chestnut Hill, which the Red and Blue went on to lose, 31-26.
However, a bye week has given Jenkins time to heal, and he now feels relatively close to game ready as his knee improves each and every day.
“It feels great, no pain at all,” he said. “I’ve been doing some physical therapy, and our trainers have been taking great care of me.”
Despite Jenkins’s progress, a lack of pain is not necessarily sufficient for him to get back on the field. The team’s trainers will be looking for more than just that in their evaluation of his knee before the game on Friday.
“They have to be confident that I’m healthy and not at risk to get any further injury if I go back and start playing,” Jenkins said. “It’s just for them being confident that I’m ready to go and not rushing it.”
In Jenkins’ absence, different members of Penn’s offense have had to pick up the slack. Junior quarterback Reed Connor and sophomore wide receiver/quarterback Joshua Trybus have split time in Jenkins's place, with the latter throwing two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Chestnut Hill. Senior running back Jake Klaus has rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns over the same span.
However, the Quakers (2-1, 1-1 CSFL South) have struggled to make up for the immense production that Jenkins provided on offense. He was first team All-Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) last year and passed for 240 yards, ran for 126 yards, and scored six total touchdowns in Penn’s 2018 season opener at Mansfield.
The Red and Blue’s 42 combined points from the two games in which Jenkins missed significant time fall well short of the 54 scored against Mansfield, illustrating the importance of having the quarterback on the field.
Friday’s matchup against Army (3-0, 1-0 North) may not have a big impact on the Quakers’ CSFL Championship Game prospects. However, with one division loss already, a win against the Black Knights could serve as a tiebreaker if Penn wins its remaining division games versus Navy and Caldwell.
Army is traditionally the toughest matchup of the season, which is all the more reason the Quakers hope to trot out Jenkins.
Despite this, Jenkins does not believe he will be held out on Friday if the sole purpose is to save him for the future.
“I think at this point every week is a must win in our eyes, so every game is just as important,” he said. “This week, Army is the most important game of the season.”
So while the decision on whether to play this week is not completely up to Jenkins, he is excited and ready to go.
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