A Model Of Consistency
Special Teams Coach: Tom Quinn (third year)
Assistant Special Teams Coach: Thomas McGaughey (second year)
Kick Returner—Ahmad Bradshaw
Punt Returner—Domenik Hixon
Long Snapper—Zak DeOssie
Others: Chase Blackburn, Terrell Thomas, Michael Matthews
Lawrence Tynes returns as the full-time kicker, taking over for 44-year-old John Carney who made the Pro Bowl with an NFL third best 143 points. The Giants are also looking to build on a successful season both returning kicks and defending punts.
It's a shame that John Carney had to go. He had a Pro-Bowl season after the Giants made him the starter, hitting 35 of 38 FG attempts, plus all 38 extra points.
The downside to Carney was that he had only one touchback in 79 kickoff attempts. Lawrence Tynes had one in 14 attempts, but averages 64 yards on his kickoffs to Carney's 60.
Mysteriously, Carney's kicks were returned for an average of 21.8 yards while Tynes' kicks averaged 26.8 yards per return.
Bottom line: The Giants had to bring back postseason hero Tynes, who is healthy and is in only the second year of a five year, $7 million deal.
You can go on forever praising Jeff Feagles, who is entering his 22nd season in the league and seventh with the Giants. Feagles went to the Pro Bowl in February and is still the master of placing punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Last season he netted 40.2 yards per punt, which was good enough for fourth in the NFL, plus only allowed 24 of his 64 punts to be returned. His prowess gives the Giants a huge advantage in the field-position aspect of the game.
Ahmad Bradshaw is the primary kickoff returner. Last year, he was paired with either Reuben Droughns or Domenik Hixon and ocaasionally Sinorice Moss. Droughns is gone and Hixon has been used more as the punt returner, even though he racked up 180 yards in his only three kickoff returns last year, including an 83-yarder.
Bradshaw averaged 22.2 yards per return in 39 attempts, good enough for 16th in the NFL. The Giants want Bradshaw to take more reps at running back this season and Hixon is temporarily listed as a starter at WR, so it remains to be seen if they will keep both players in these roles.
This is Hixon's job unless one of the three young receivers fails to unseat him as a starter at WR. The Giants are certain at least two of them will emerge, so Hixon will have a backup role on offense and a major role as a returner. That's good news for the Giants who are a better team with Hixon as a special teamer.
Hixon averaged 10.1 yards per return in 24 attempts with nine fair catches last season.
The Giants never look to hit it big on special teams. The philosophy is to win the field-position war. The returners will be affected by the lack of the wedge, which has been outlawed.
The other specialists are all professionals with proven track records. Long snapper Zak DeOssie was also a Pro Bowler last year. He will be back, along with veteran Chase Blackburn to lead a very capable group.