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New York Giants’ Special Teams in Good Shape as Preseason Continues

August 15th, 2013 at 12:30 PM
By Kenneth DeJohn

Even though Lawrence Tynes was replaced by Josh Brown at kicker this offseason, the New York Giants special teams unit seems to be in good shape after the first game of the preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

'Steve Weatherford of the New York Giants' photo (c) 2012, Marianne O'Leary - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Brown missed a 38-yard field goal in the game, a distance that Tynes had always been able to hit with regularity. The new kicker did connect on a 47-yarder, though, a distance that Tynes had struggled with during his tenure in New York. Tynes did make some big kicks during his career with the Giants (which started in 2007), including kicks in NFC Championship games to send his team to the Super Bowl.

After a season in which he was extremely consistent from inside 40 yards, Tynes was let go by general manager Jerry Reese and replaced by Brown, a kicker who didn't play until late in the season with the Cincinnati Bengals. Even so, Brown is a quality kicker that could bring a new element to the special teams. Whereas Tynes struggled to hit kicks from over 45-yards, Brown has a much stronger leg and can hit long kicks from time to time.

Punter Steve Weatherford will return this season, and he is widely considered one of the better players at his position in the NFL. Weatherford is great at placing the ball inside the 20-yard line and pinning the opposition against the goaline. An improved Giants defense should help to make those kicks stand out even more, as long scoring drives were all too familiar to the unit last season.

In terms of the return game, the Giants have a ton of options heading into the coming weeks. David Wilson was the league-leader in kick return yardage last season, but a more prominent role in the offense is in store for him in 2013. This makes his availability on special teams a question mark. He can still contribute on a consistent basis, but it's doubtful that he'll be on the field to return every kickoff.

Fellow running back Michael Cox could be an option to replace Wilson on kicks, reports Kieran Darcy, as he has plenty of speed to burn and may not find much playing time behind Andre Brown and Da'Rel Scott during the regular season. His explosiveness takes a back seat to Wilson's, but Cox is a good athlete that should be able to rip off a few lengthy runs.

The team's punt return situation is in a state of flux, but that doesn't necessarily mean special teams coordinator Tom Quinn needs to worry. After finishing last in the NFL in punt return yardage last season, Quinn will look for one of Rueben Randle, Jayron Hosley or Kevin Hardy to take the job during the preseason. Randle handled punt return duties last season, though, so his inefficiencies could result in a change.

Despite personnel changes aplenty, Quinn's special teams unit looks to be in good shape. Brown has the potential to be an upgrade over Tynes, Weatherford should see even more praise due to a stronger defense this season and both return games should be consistent next season if the right players are put into positions to succeed.

Head coach Tom Coughlin loves a strong special teams unit, so he'll be sure to squeeze every bit of potential out of the group by the time the first week of the regular season rolls around.

Also…

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Tags: David Wilson, Football, Jerry Reese, Josh Brown, Lawrence Tynes, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Tom Coughlin, Tom Quinn

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19 Responses to “New York Giants’ Special Teams in Good Shape as Preseason Continues”

  1.  fanfor55years says:

    Cox is definitely making the team because not only might he be an ideal return man on kickoffs, but he looked great as a gunner against Pittsburgh.

    I still think it’s going to be only three running backs and Torrain and Scott can only hope to slip onto the roster somehow and if one does it will be Torrain. But I think both get cut.

    I’d also watch out for James as a punt returner if he makes the team. He’s be the fifth corner on the depth chart and would only be kept if he’ll be one of the potential returners. I think he’s more likely to wind up on the practice team.

    And let me say for about the tenth time that I think Steve Weatherford is one of the most valuable members of the Giants and the unsung hero of the 2011 championship during which Super Bowl game he pinned the Pats down deep time-after-time and made each of Brady’s drives long and difficult as a result. Jeff Feagles taught him very well.

  2.  Krow says:

    Yeah, we still don’t have anyone for punt returns. Certainly no one who scares any body.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      I think James could scare people. I just don’t know if he can make the squad. His best shot is actually if Thomas can’t get all the way back. And since none of us hope for that I think we’re also hoping James doesn’t make the roster. But I hope they find a way to keep him hanging around. He may be short but he is an explosive player.

  3.  fanfor55years says:

    On a general note, as far as I’m concerned the special teams improved by leaps-and-bounds over the past two years, so my disdain for Tom Quinn disappeared as I realized it must have had more to do with the players than the coach, but I do also have to note that the “attitude” of the players on that squad changed when a new assistant showed up who ate nails as a player.

    Now, if they can only improve the blocking for the punt returner so he has a chance to make a move in some space on the first man downfield, then we’re really in business.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Agreed. I think that’s why it’s crazy to believe Paysinger or Herzlich won’t be on this roster because they have been at the core of the turnaround with Williams. These guys are top special teams players even if beaten out for starting jobs.

      •  fanfor55years says:

        They will definitely be on the roster.

        All of the top six on the depth chart at linebacker will stick. And that almost certainly includes Curry (who could be a big help on special teams too).

  4.  Krow says:

    I wish someone would do a study on punt returns. I’d like to know …

    … do fair catches net more yards than ones that are returned? In other words does the relentless barrage of illegal blocking calls offset the positive return yards.

    … how much yardage is lost when a punt actually hits the ground instead of being fielded cleanly.

    There are times when I think if we just put two men back and fair caught every ball that we’d be ahead of the game.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Put Izzo on the case (but he’ll just say fair catches are for girlie-boys).

      I also have to believe that every Head Coach wants those returns because they can be radically game-changing when you break one. You can score points or get major changes in field position. Those are the “big plays” that change outcomes. Of course that can go the other way on you, but I think it makes sense to take the risk if you are confident in your returner and his responsible protection of the ball.

  5.  GOAT56 says:

    I think of lack of PR yardage has been all about our choice for PR. I think we have 3 options that can scare people in Hosley, JJ and James. Hosley might be the most explosive but also my be the roster important regular out of the 3. Holsey like JJ has to prove he can consistently catch the ball. JJ with his natural quickness is a natural as a PR but he has to catch the ball. James is not as explosive as the first 2 but seems to have the catching the ball down. James also gives some quickness and big play ability. We normally are conservative so James at this point is my favorite.

    •  Krow says:

      JJ catches punts like a park statue. But he does scare me … just not in a good way.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Hosley would be best, but he’s going to be playing a lot at corner so I don’t think he’ll be doing much returning.

      Even Ross is a candidate.

      If nothing else, we’ll have a lot of “depth” at the return spot.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        I just listed the 3 options that scare people. Randle and Ross are 2 other candidates but they are the safe choices. CB depth is needed so I probably wouldn’t risk Hosley or Ross. The options that make the most sense are JJ or James. James likely has to win the job to make the roster.

  6.  fanfor55years says:

    A guy who might help on special teams but is starting to look ticketed to the practice team is Cooper Taylor. He hasn’t played yet and probably won’t get a chance to do so against top competition next week against the Jets even if his hamstring has healed (because they need to sort out the rest of the depth chart and get guys who will actually be playing, playing together).

    Might he be our first “The hamstring injury didn’t heal so we’re putting him on the PUP list”? I think it’s one of that, the practice team, or IR for Taylor. But he might have done some damage on specials.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Taylor isn’t going to PS. the point of PS is to develop players but you can;t develop players if they are signed off of PS. Cutting Taylor for PS would eb the end of him as a Giant because someone will sign him. He’s not that different than Robinson and Mosley last year. One was kept on the 53 and the other was IR’d.

      His injury has taken away much of his ability to contribute on defense this year. But special teams is the main job for most backups and Taylor can excel there.

      He can’t be on PUP because he didn’t open training camp there. Only JPP, Hynoski or Kuhn can be placed on regular season PUP now.

      It’s either the 53 or IR.

      •  Krow says:

        Then it’s the IR. In fact I really don’t like the look of that hamstring boy.

      •  JimStoll says:

        I would bet IR unless he’s back at practice this which, which would mean he’s started the long lonely walk along bust road
        rookie season gone
        another injury in season 2 and he’ll be having lunch with Jernigan Barden and Moss

  7.  F0XLIN says:

    Not to take anything away from Quinn because he was our favorite whipping boy for a couple years. But I think Larry Izzo was also a great addition to the staff

    •  rlhjr says:

      Absolutely no question that the Giant special teams got light years better when Izzo reported onboard.

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