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Jernigan still in mix for punt returner

New York Giants Jerrel Jernigan #12 reaches for

New York Giants Jerrel Jernigan #12 reaches for a pass during practice. (Aug. 17, 2011) Photo Credit: Joe Epstein

Jerrel Jernigan, who muffed three punts and fumbled a fourth on Monday against the Jets, returned one 42 yards against the Patriots and showed the speed and agility the Giants drafted. That set up a 48-yard field goal by Rhys Lloyd late in the first quarter.

But Jernigan’s rollercoaster story of redemption took a dip off the tracks when he muffed another punt in the second quarter. The ball bounced right into the hands of the Patriots’ Gary Guyton, who returned it for a touchdown that was called back because of an illegal formation by the Pats on the punt. On the rekick, Jernigan again bobbled the ball but regained control of it.

“You leave him out there long enough, he learns,” Tom Coughlin said. “He did some good things as well as some bad things again. He’s going to be in the mix (to return punts in the opener on Sept. 11).

Really? The Giants will stick with Jernigan?

“Sure, why not?” Coughlin said. “We’re 10 days away, I can say whatever I want right now.”

One thing Coughlin does like about Jernigan is his ability to bounce back.

“He’s young and we’ll give him a little bit of credit for that, but it’s now time that there can’t be any mistakes like that,” Coughlin said. “We’ll just keep working with him. He’s a completely honest young man, never blames anybody for anything except himself. I like that part about him.”

He also made a pretty sweet catch in the back of the end zone on the game-winning two-point conversion.

Jernigan said he’s been hearing it from fans on Twitter after Monday’s game. He said people are telling him that he sucks and whenever he sends out a Tweet he gets a few responses from fans telling him he shouldn’t be worried about social media and should be spending his time practicing catching punts.

“I just put it off to the side,” Jernigan said of the response. “Tell them to have a blessed day. Kill them with kindness.”


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