Ann Arbor — Michigan senior Jourdan Lewis knew it would take some time, but by the end of the game he felt like he was back in game rhythm.
Lewis, an All-American corner, missed the first three games of the season because of a back strain and made his return in the Big Ten opener against Penn State on Saturday. He had two tackles and a tackle for loss.
“When you're first getting out there you have to adjust a little bit because I missed three weeks,” Lewis said. “Came out a little rusty, and got better in the second half.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the season opener that it was his decision not to let Lewis play.
“Me being the competitor I wanted to,” Lewis said. “I worked so hard in the offseason, I strained it here in camp. I didn’t have any days off in the offseason, I was going so hard. That strain definitely sat me down a little bit, take time off and let your body heal and rest. You could say it was a plus I got some time off. I wouldn’t have taken that time off myself. “
Lewis said he is 100 percent healthy.
“I’ve just got to trust my body,” he said.
He was trying to live down the ultimate humiliation for a kick returner — he was tackled by Penn State kicker Joey Julius on a kickoff, which Lewis returned 18 yards to the Michigan 24-yard line. He said he’s never been caught by a kicker.
“I did not see him at all,” Lewis said, smiling. “He definitely thought he was going to make the tackle, and he did.”
And then he jokingly threw teammate Jabrill Peppers under the bus.
“I’ll put this out there, I’m not trying to throw shade, but Jabrill did miss him,” Lewis said, drawing laughter and adding he gave Peppers an earful.
He did the pro move to acknowledge the embarrassment of the tackle before his teammates gave him a hard time. But they still did.
“Everybody else definitely was laughing at me,” Lewis said. “That’s a cardinal sin — don’t get caught by the kicker.”
Lewis is just happy to be back on the field. He said it was difficult to watch his team from the sideline.
“It was very hard, especially that Colorado game (last week),” he said. “Those guys needed me. It definitely was hard but I knew what I had to do to get back on the field and be 100 percent for those guys.
“I was more scared I wasn’t going to play more games. I would never have held myself out regardless of the injury.”