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Malcolm in the middle: Eagles' Jenkins defends his role in talks to end NFL protests

The Eagles safety says he is proud of what his Players Coalition has accomplished, even as some players leave the group.

Philadelphia Eagles' Chris Long (56), Malcolm Jenkins (27) and Rodney McLeod (23) gesture during the National Anthem before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Philadelphia Eagles' Chris Long (56), Malcolm Jenkins (27) and Rodney McLeod (23) gesture during the National Anthem before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)Read moreMatt Rourke

Malcolm Jenkins on Friday defended himself against charges from players who have withdrawn from the Players Coalition founded by Jenkins and Anquan Boldin to try to address social justice issues.

Jenkins, an Eagles safety, said this week that he would end his practice of raising his right fist during the national anthem, after the NFL agreed to provide at least $89 million to programs promoting the goals the coalition wants to achieve. But several players, including San Francisco safety Eric Reid and Chargers tackle Russell Okung, have withdrawn from the coalition and have not said they will end their anthem protests.

Reid and Okung have said that Jenkins doesn't speak for them in his talks with the league. Reid also has said Jenkins told him the money would come at the expense of other NFL charitable initiatives, something the NFL and Jenkins denied Friday. There also has been an insinuation that Jenkins will control a big portion of the money the NFL provides.

Jenkins said he does not like being portrayed as having acted on his own.

"I think what is a disservice is that my name gets thrown around in talks about the coalition like I'm the only player involved," he said. "I think it's a discredit to all the guys who have put in time and effort and work into this.

"What we tried to create wasn't established already. As myself and Anquan were out in the community, were doing work and were bringing other players with us, we were starting to see how influential athletes are, and how many doors were open to us because we were athletes. What we wanted to do was create an organization that's athlete-driven, and use their leverage, collectively, to really make some things happen.

"We did, I think, an awesome job of reaching out to guys all around the league that are still engaged and still onboard, that have been [a part of] this process from the start … I'm proud of it … We were able to use our influence to fight for our communities."

Jenkins said the coalition's board will handle how money is allocated, not him or Boldin.

"We created a board. The understanding has always been that although myself and Anquan kind of started this group, there would be a board that had equal voting power, basically," he said. "We would all determine how we allocated this money, to what causes … That's always been the understanding … We'll have a board of nine to 11 players who will all have voting rights and we'll all decide together how we want to allocate whatever funds come in to our coalition. But obviously, our focuses are on criminal justice reform, police and community relations and police accountability, as well as grass-roots educational and economic advancement opportunities."

The NFL issued a statement saying the social justice initiative "will supplement, not replace" other charitable efforts.

Echoing the NFL, Jenkins said: "I think that is a misunderstanding" about the money being drawn from other initiatives. "It's coming out of the NFL Foundation … We are being added to that. How those funds are being [raised], I don't know."

Ajayi speaks

Eagles running back Jay Ajayi's less-than-sunny demeanor after Sunday's rout of the Chicago Bears ignited a controversy, when observers inferred the new weapon wasn't happy with how he was being used. Ajayi spoke Friday for the first time since the postgame locker room.

"I've just been doing whatever the coaches have asked of me, just running the plays they've been calling, and trying to make big plays when I can," he said. "Obviously, you want to be able get in a rhythm in a game and be able to feel how the game is going. But what we've been doing, it's been working. How it's been going is, whenever your number gets called, just make it count. And understanding that realistically the opportunities are limited, so you have to make sure you take advantage of them."

Ajayi fumbled at the end of his most productive run, for 30 yards, against the Bears, which is what Eagles coach Doug Pederson said caused Ajayi to seem less than sunny afterward.

"Obviously, during the game, I'm a very passionate player and I'm very hard on myself as well," Ajayi said. "So I was definitely frustrated that I wasn't able to finish the run, because it was great blocking and it was basically just me and the end zone. You've got to be able to finish in the open field."

Ajayi said he met with Pederson this week "just to let him know that it's not that big of a deal."

Walker questionable

Middle linebacker Joe Walker didn't practice again Friday with a stinger and is unlikely to play in Seattle, though the Eagles listed him only as "questionable." Good chance Dannell Ellerbe sees his first Eagles action.