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Saturday, July 20, 2013
Camp preview: Special teams

By Ohm Youngmisuk

As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the Giants, position by position.

Position: Special teams.

Projected starters: K Josh Brown, P Steve Weatherford, LS Zak DeOssie, KR David Wilson, PR Rueben Randle.

Projected reserves: K David Buehler, KR/PR Jerrel Jernigan, PR Aaron Ross, PR Jayron Hosley.

 David Wilson
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New faces: Brown, Buehler, Ross.

Going, going, gone: K Lawrence Tynes, PR Domenik Hixon.

Player to watch: Brown. The Giants brought him in to replace Tynes, who had been with the team for the past six years. Brown is a career 81.3 percent kicker, and has hit field goals from 52 yards or longer in nine of his 10 NFL seasons. Tynes was clutch, though, and had the valuable experience of knowing how to play in the Meadowlands weather. Brown will have to learn the nuances of the stadium and climate, beat out Buehler in camp, and develop the kind of chemistry Tynes had with DeOssie and Weatherford. That shouldn't be a problem, though.

Potential strength: Weatherford has been rock-solid and that shouldn’t change this season. And the Giants' coverage units went from a major weakness in 2010 to a prime strength the past couple of years. DeOssie, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger are among those who shine on coverage units. And those units should only get better with the addition of athletic young players like fifth-round draft pick Cooper Taylor.

Potential weakness: Punt returns. Giants punt returners have offered little the past couple of seasons, and the team really could use somebody reliable and exciting back there. Randle is the leading candidate, but Jernigan, Ross and Hosley all could get looks in the preseason. The Giants averaged 7.2 yards per punt return last season.

Wild card: Wilson. He was sensational as the team's kick returner last year. But now he is projected to start at running back, and the Giants must weigh the risk of using the 5-foot-9 Wilson at kick returner as well. Wilson wants to continue doing it. If the Giants don’t want to risk their starting running back, perhaps they could use Wilson there on a situational basis. If Wilson doesn’t return kicks, Jernigan could become the starter. Da’Rel Scott also could get chances in camp to return kickoffs. But having a guy like Wilson, who amassed 1,533 kickoff return yards and a return touchdown last season, is a major asset.

Tell us what you think of the special teams unit entering camp.