Hixon Was The Giants' Everyman and Will Be Hard To ReplaceNot much has been settled in the way of special teams this summer, meaning the Giants have some key decisions to make - and soon.
The loss of WR/KR Domenik Hixon has sent a rippling effect through the Giants' roster. Hixon was an extremely important part of the Giants' specials.
Special teams' coach Tom Quinn told us during mini-camp that Hixon actually had four jobs on the special teams...
The most difficult of the four tasks is punt returner. The job takes a specific skill set of guts, concentration and talent. Players fitting that description are not easy to find.
Quinn seemed to believe he had some viable candidates on the roster. Apparently, Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese do not have such faith. They are focusing more on external solutions, it seems.
The dalliance with former Bengal and Titan KR Chris Davis this week has done little to calm the fears of the the team and the fans. Davis was signed but then failed the Giants' physical, prompting his release.
Quinn had this to say to reporters on June 18th.....
"We have a lot of talented guys. We always put an early emphasis in the OTAs on guys catching punts. We'll have about eight offensive guys, eight defensive guys and work them all out."Quinn also pointed out that health and other responsibilities may rule out some players, but a lot has changed since that day.
"Aaron (Ross) has some return experience from college. He' always wanted to do it and he's been bugging us to do it and this might be his opportunity. Mario's (Manningham) another guy. You have Sinorice (Moss), you have Chad Jones..."
"Last year, we had four guys return punts for us, Ahmad Bradshaw, Corey Webster..we had three guys in one game. You have to be prepared to have some depth."
"(Tim Brown) another guy that you'll look to. We'll see if he holds up size-wise. He's got real good quickness and elusiveness."
We now know the team is not high on any of these players returning punts, and Jones is gone indefinitely, if not for good.
Manningham appears to be a good kickoff returner, but he's not the right body-type for punts. Moss is still an enigma. No one knows what he can do because he's never stayed healthy.
Bradshaw and Webster are not real options at this point. Bradshaw is still ambling around. He's got to heal completely and show he's capable of playing 100% again before any more is asked of him.
Webster is too valuable to risk as a returner, regardless of Quinn's statement that the best player will get the job, even if they are a starter at another position.
Brown is the smallest player in camp. He can run and make people miss, but ball security is the primary function of the punt returner. Can he take a hit at this level and not cough up the ball...?
That leaves Ross. He is currently the nickel back on the Giants' defense. He has the attributes to do the job, but his health is always an issue and the team may not want to overtax him.
So, it appears the search will continue.