Each pass Jerrel Jernigan catches in the preseason is one step closer to getting the ball in games that count.
Looking to fill the third wide receiver role, Jernigan hauled in two catches for 26 yards on Saturday night against the Jets. They were his first ones of the preseason, while he and Victor Cruz were the only Giants to notch multiple receptions in the 26-3 victory.
"Pretty much we felt good going in throwing the ball against those guys," Jernigan said on Monday. "I had a good catch-and-run out there, caught a couple passes. I felt good out there actually catching passes and running with the ball after the catch."
Jernigan entered the mix with a short reception shortly after halftime, and followed up later in the third quarter with a 19-yard scamper – both from backup quarterback David Carr.
"It was nothing but a little hitch route out there," Jernigan, a 2011 third-round draft choice, said. "It was open all night. Victor caught some passes on it. They gave us those all night, and I just caught the ball, turned up-field, cut back across the field and gained a couple extra yards."
Looking to carve out their own place in the offense, fellow wideouts Rueben Randle and David Douglas also slashed the Jets defense.
With cornerback Julian Posey on his tail, Randle hooked up with Carr on his first pass of the game, leaping to make a grab for a 49-yard pickup. The Giants had three pass plays of 20 yards or more, and Douglas contributed on the final one from quarterback Ryan Perrilloux with eight minutes left in the game.
"I spoke to the fact last night that I thought both teams' defenses, our defense and the Jets' defense, both played very well and created a lot of problems for the offense," Tom Coughlin said on Sunday during a conference call with the media. "Created protection problems, created mismatch problems in terms of running the ball. We had a couple of pass plays down the field, which were very positive things. In their own light, Rueben Randle had a very nice play; David Douglas had a very nice play. We had some nice run after the catch by JJ (Jernigan)."
As Jernigan works toward his first catch in the regular season (he didn't have any as a rookie), he hopes to build some momentum. And having Hakeem Nicks return to practice and eventually draw the attention of opposing defenses could create some holes for Jernigan.
"That's a good thing to have him back with us out there," Jernigan said. "Everybody knows what he can do, so it's good to have him back and get him back out there and be another target."