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Janoris Jenkins makes Giant turnaround, playing his best ball of season

Janoris Jenkins breaks up a fourth-down pass in

Janoris Jenkins breaks up a fourth-down pass in overtime to seal the Giants' win over the Bears on Dec. 2, 2018 at MetLife Stadium. Credit: Mike Stobe

Not a lot of football games end in walk-off plays, and when they do, it typically is a kicker or an offensive player who gets to celebrate such an accomplishment. That’s why when Janoris Jenkins heard the defensive call on the fourth-down play in overtime against the Bears on Sunday and knew right away that the final snap of the game would be coming his way, he was excited.

And when he made the play, swatting away a deep pass in man coverage without anyone near him to help, he was thrilled.

“It’s just a play I had to make,” Jenkins said. “They look for me to make that play and I made it.”

That hasn’t always been the case this season. Jenkins has struggled at times and has been beaten on routes that he usually shuts down. Lately, though, the starting cornerback has been playing at what seems to be a return to the Pro Bowl level he reached with the Giants in 2016.

He said the ankle surgery that ended his season last year still was lingering when he began playing this season.

“I had an injury that was nagging a little bit, but I had never told anybody,” Jenkins said. “It was just a little irritation. You know how you’re fresh off of an injury, you’re just getting back used to the game, you haven’t been out there so long? That’s what it was, and I was just continuing to fight and kept playing. And the injury, it doesn’t nag anymore.”

“He’s a tough sucker and I appreciate his spirit, too, because he just keeps competing,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Every once in a while, people get beat, but he just keeps fighting, competing.”

The only nagging now is from Jenkins, who spent time late in Sunday’s game urging the coaches to call coverages that would allow him to make plays.

“They were moving the ball and moving the ball and I was steady telling Coach [Bettcher], go double bracket,” he said. “He started calling 51, and last play of the game, he just called zero.”

That left Jenkins all alone in coverage, a dangerous position to be in with the game on the line.

“It feels good, it always feels good, but that’s behind me,” Jenkins said. “It’s a new week. Just got to come to work again.”

Notes & quotes: WR Sterling Shepard injured his ribs in Sunday’s game but said X-rays and a CT scan of the area showed no broken bones, only soft tissue damage. He still was in pain Monday but said he hopes to be well enough to play Sunday . . . Shurmur said he is “hopeful” that TE Evan Engram (hamstring) and LB Lorenzo Carter (hip) can play Sunday after missing the game against the Bears.

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