Bears rookie Velus Jones crushed by muffed punt late in Giants game

Bears rookie Velus Jones could barely stand the wait for his NFL debut. When he finally made it, he was miserable.

Jones cost the Bears their last realistic chance against the Giants by coughing up the ball on a punt return with two minutes left in their 20-12 loss at MetLife Stadium. A good return would’ve given them a shot at forcing overtime, but the ball went right through Jones’ hands.

He tried to fall on it as it bounded away, but when cornerback Lamar Jackson’s leg hit him and the ball ricocheted until Giants running back Gary Brightwell recovered it.

“I’m definitely gonna let this one sit and hurt,” Jones said. “It’s gonna motivate me next time I’m out there. I know the type of returner I am.”

Jones was an excellent punt returner in college, and the Bears drafted him in the third round at No. 71 overall for that talent and to be a threat at wide receiver. He returned two kickoffs against the Giants for 22 yards apiece and had a 19-yard punt return.

His muffed punt wrecked what coach Matt Eberflus thought was a perfect plan.

He saved time by using two timeouts while forcing the Giants into a three-and-out and imagined a scenario where Jones got the Bears to midfield with one timeout available.

“That was sweet,” Eberflus said of everything until Jones lost the punt. “The punterout-kickedthe coverage a little bit, and we had Velus Jones back there. We had great blocking. There was a wide space for us.”

Jones missed some of the preseason and the first three games with a hamstring injury. In his first preseason game, he fumbled the opening kickoff but bounced back with a 48-yard punt return.

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