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Sunday, March 16, 2014
Demps should lift Giants' sad return game

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

So many things went wrong for the New York Giants in 2013 that some are easy to ignore. The offense bore the brunt of the blame for the 0-6 start and 7-9 season, and justifiably so. But the 2013 Giants were bad at many things, and the returning of kicks and punts was a significant problem that had to be addressed.

Demps
Enter Quintin Demps, who spent a good chunk of his early Sunday morning informing his Twitter followers that he'd agreed on a new contract with the Giants. Demps was a reserve safety and kickoff return man for the Chiefs in 2013. His kick-return average of 30.1 yards was third in the NFL behind Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson and Dallas' Dwayne Harris, and he did run one back for a touchdown -- the second of his career.

As a team, the 2013 Giants ranked 27th in the NFL with a kick-return average of 21.2. Obviously, more goes into it than the skills of the return man himself -- i.e., they need to block better in the return game. But Demps has blazing speed on returns and should definitely provide a boost to a unit that was a significant problem last year.

He's never returned a punt at the NFL level, so the identity of the punt returner remains in question. Cornerback Walter Thurmond, who also agreed to a Giants contract Sunday morning, was a punt returner in college but has only one punt-return attempt as a pro (and fumbled it). So that's to be sorted out yet. But they'd been looking for a high-octane return man, and after losing out on Jacoby Jones and Ted Ginn Jr. last week, they have locked up Demps for that role.

2012 first-round pick David Wilson was a tremendous kick returner for the Giants as a rookie. But Wilson is coming off of neck surgery, which means the Giants don't know whether they can count on him to play at all and likely will want to limit his exposure to danger if he does.

It's also worth noting Demps' potential value to the Giants at safety. He started six games there for the Chiefs last year, and with Stevie Brown returning from ACL surgery and Will Hill always a wild-card due to his off-field issues, depth at safety is something the Giants could use.