"I don't think we'd have a Super Bowl without him."
Lane Johnson pointed to Malcolm Jenkins' speech in the locker room following the NFC East-clinching victory at the Los Angeles Rams on December 10 as a turning point in the season. It was a bittersweet moment. The team was proudly celebrating a hard-fought win that secured a division crown for the first time in four seasons. On the other hand, Carson Wentz, the league MVP to that point of the season, was done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Jenkins rallied the team with a soul-stirring message reminding everyone of the bigger goals that were still achievable no matter who was in at any position.
"He's so instrumental for our defense. He is the vocal leader," Johnson said. "And not only does he talk about, he's about it."
Jenkins was honored on the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2018 at No. 96 on Monday night. It's his second straight appearance on the list. Johnson was also lauded for his 2017 performance and came in at No. 95 one spot ahead of Jenkins.
"I finally put it all together and this year was my toughest as far as opponents," said Johnson, who also earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time this past season.
Among Johnson's highlights were stonewalling Washington's Ryan Kerrigan for nine seconds on a pass play and tossing Denver's Von Miller to the ground like a bag of trash.
"He's one of those players who likes to finish you. Don't come around him slipping because he will finish you," said Falcons linebacker De'Vondre Campbell. "You need linemen like that. They set the tone for you. I just love the way he plays. He's the type of guy I want on my team."
Players 100-81 were revealed on Monday night. The next 10 will be announced next Monday at 8 p.m. on NFL Network.