Monday, June 23, 2014
Sizing up Giants' return options
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
The New York Giants ranked 26th in the NFL in punt-return average and 27th in kickoff-return average in 2013, so it's little surprise that they spent part of their offseason focus on those areas. They signed return men Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday in free agency and drafted wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who has kick-return and punt-return experience, in the first round.
This gives them options for fixing one of their biggest problems, which they like.
"You've got three different types of returners when you talk about Beckham, Holliday and Demps," Giants special teams coach Tom Quinn said last week. "Obviously, with the speed of Holliday and the shiftiness, the undersized guy. And then you've got Demps, who's got a little more size and does that the straight-line speed. And then you've got Beckham, who's probably a combination of the two. We're real happy with all three of those guys."
Quinn said Beckham would work at punt returner and kick returner as the Giants figure out what the rookie can do and also prep him to play a major role on offense. He said they wouldn't be afraid to put him in the game as a returner just because they also play to use him at receiver.
"I think he'll be ready for anything we ask him to do," Quinn said. "A lot of times it gives those guys confidence and they progress on and they end up being offensive or defensive players down the road."
Quinn also said Holliday would work on both punt returns and kick returns, and he mentioned holdover receivers Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan as being in the mix. Demps, it would seem, is slated for kick returns only, and his role on the defense at safety could be larger than initially expected due to the suspension and release of Will Hill.
"Demps, we're real excited to have him," Quinn said. "He's been consistent in this league and explosive. He's a legitimate No. 1 kickoff returner for us. He runs with good size, and he has a real good understanding of the schemes. A real leader, coming in likely to start and contribute on special teams."
Holliday is only 5-foot-5, and while offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said he'd been a "pleasant surprise" as a contributor at wide receiver in the spring program, he's going to have to make the team as a return man. He has incredible speed but has had some issues with fumbling in his previous stops.
"His speed's an asset, that's for sure," Quinn said. "He's a strong guy for his size. Ball security obviously will be his biggest focus once we start putting pads on and start knocking him around a little bit. I haven't seen anything yet. I've been pleased with the way he's been tracking the ball. It's been a big focus on catching the punt and getting started, but I've been pleased with that."