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One of league's best cornerbacks only goes by 'Jackrabbit'

Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins held Dez Bryant to one catch on Sunday, which he forced Bryant to fumble. In two games this season against Bryant, Jenkins has held the Cowboys star to two catches for 18 yards. Elsa/Getty Images

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have a shutdown cornerback. He's listed on the roster as Janoris Jenkins, a 5-10, 198-pound stronger-than-he-looks jitterbug from North Alabama.

But don't try to call him Janoris. It's Jackrabbit.

"That is my name," said Jenkins, who corrected NBC's Michele Tafoya twice during a postgame interview after starring in Sunday night's win over the Dallas Cowboys. "I wouldn't feel right to not let my teammates call me Janoris, and she called me Janoris. So I just take Jackrabbit as my name."

Everybody in the Giants building, coaches included, call him Jackrabbit or Rabbit.

"I don't know anybody who doesn't," cornerback Trevin Wade said.

When the Giants first assembled this spring they went around the room and introduced themselves. Jenkins introduced himself as Jackrabbit. It's what he has gone by ever since he arrived at the University of Florida early in 2008 and was making plays despite not knowing the defense. A coach called him a Jackrabbit, and it has stuck.

Nobody, well nobody outside the woman who gave him life, calls him Janoris.

"Probably just my mom," he said. "She's special so I can't blame her for that. I don't hold no grudges against her. She can call me Janoris. She's the only one."

Whatever it is you call him, Jenkins has been one of the league's top cornerbacks this season after signing a five-year, $62.5 million contract in the spring.

Jenkins silenced Dallas' Dez Bryant for the second time this year on Sunday night. He held him to one catch on nine targets for 10 yards. Bryant fumbled on that one catch when Jenkins dislodged the ball to clinch the victory.

Considering how this season has gone, it's par for the course.

Jenkins has shadowed Bryant (twice), Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Cincinnati's A.J. Green. None topped 68 yards receiving.

Jenkins has been everything the Giants wanted, and maybe more. He's Pro Football Focus' sixth-ranked cornerback with an 87.6 grade, with strong marks in coverage and as a run defender.

While he's confident in his abilities and on the field, Jenkins is going to let everyone else determine where he stands among the league's top cornerbacks.

"I don't know," he said. "You all tell me?"

Patrick Peterson, Aqib Talib, Malcolm Butler, Darius Slay. Jenkins deserves mention in that category.

The thing is that he doesn't consider himself much different as a player than he was during his first four seasons with the Rams. He will only concede that he's in a better situation now.

His role with the more competitive Giants (9-4) allows him to play a bit differently.

"You take a lot of chances. You need a lot of plays," Jenkins said of playing with the struggling Rams in past years. "Here you can just play within the scheme, play for your teammates and hopefully bring the energy."

Jenkins has been a weapon for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. He's moved around the field and traveled with just about every top receiver the Giants have faced. Bryant has two receptions for 18 yards ... in their two meetings combined.

The results speak for themselves. Inevitably the honors (Pro Bowl and/or All-Pro) will likely follow.

"It would mean a lot but I ain't trying to make the Pro Bowl," Jenkins said. "I'm trying to make it somewhere else."

With his play and the now viral postgame interview, Jackrabbit is becoming more of a household name. That's just the way he wants it. He is Jackrabbit or Rabbit. He barely even considers himself Janoris.

Jenkins adopted the name years ago (not legally though), in part because he believes it's apropos.

"It's me all around," he said. "It describes me as a person, my background, where I come from (Pahokee, Florida) and just a football player being quick on the field."

As long as he continues to play at this level, Jackrabbit it is. Nobody is going to argue.