The state of the special teams

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
7:06
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants haven't made many personnel changes on offense or defense from last season to this season.

Special teams is another story.

The Giants will have a new place-kicker in 2013. And their primary kick returner will probably be new as well.

Josh Brown replaces Lawrence Tynes, who had been with the Giants since 2007 and had come through in the clutch many times, including with two overtime kicks in NFC championship games, on the road, sending Big Blue to the Super Bowl.

[+] EnlargeJosh Brown
AP Photo/Seth WenigJosh Brown knocked in three field goals in the Giants' preseason game against the Steelers.
But special teams coordinator Tom Quinn likes what he has seen from Brown thus far, despite the fact that he missed a 38-yard field goal in the first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Brown did make three others, including a 47-yarder.)

On Wednesday, Quinn called the 34-year-old Brown "a consistent veteran kicker" and said the team was not concerned that Brown wasn't even on an NFL roster for most of last season before being picked up by the Cincinnati Bengals in December.

"It was a different year as far as kickers. I don’t think anyone changed kickers until Week 13 or 14," Quinn said. "Usually a guy like Josh, who didn’t make a team, would have been picked up earlier, so I think that was a surprise to everyone. We didn’t really focus on that part of it."

Brown has actually trained with Giants punter/holder Steve Weatherford in the past, and Quinn said the chemistry between Brown, Weatherford and long snapper Zak DeOssie has developed quickly.

"It’s gone really well," Quinn said. "I think Zak and Steve have done a good job. I think they’re better than they were last year, so that made the transition a little bit easier."

As for the return game, the Giants had the NFL leader in kick return yardage last season in David Wilson. But Wilson is expected to have an increased role on offense this year. He's still listed as the No. 1 kick returner on the depth chart, but head coach Tom Coughlin has indicated the Giants will pick and choose when to use Wilson on special teams, as opposed to putting him back there all the time.

"That’s all up to the powers that be," Quinn said. "Everyone realizes he is a weapon. If the time and the place is right, then I think we’ll put him in after we consult with everyone."

Jerrel Jernigan and Da'Rel Scott are listed as the second- and third-string kick returners, but both are currently out with injuries. Another candidate is rookie running back Michael Cox.

"He’s looked good in practice," Quinn said. "We’ve just got to see him in the game when it is full-speed live tackling. He does have the ability to make people miss and he is explosive."

Rueben Randle was the primary punt returner last season, but the Giants finished dead-last in punt-return yardage.

"It’s wide open," Quinn said of the punt returner job. "We have Rueben. We got Jayron Hosley. We have Jernigan. We have David taking some reps back there. And we have some young guys we are interested in. Kevin Hardy is one, a receiver. Laron Scott and [Charles] James. So those are the guys in the mix right now."
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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