As he wrapped up his team meeting on Thursday, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin went over the usual housekeeping items the night before a game.
From a rundown of the itinerary to any final adjustments, it’s not the most exciting part the week, but a necessary one nonetheless. Then Coughlin announced the captains for last night’s game against Chicago. And after he said the names “David Diehl” and “Mathias Kiwanuka” – two veterans established within the organization – Spencer Paysinger slouched back in his chair. He assumed a second-year player like himself wouldn’t be called.
However, the thought did cross his mind.
“He was naming off the captains – Diehl, Kiwi. So I’m thinking, OK, they’re doing all older guys,” Paysinger recalled in the postgame locker room. “I’m sitting next to Tyler [Sash] and everybody. It’s kind of the mundane part of it, but in my head, I said, ‘What if he said Paysinger?’ Then he said ‘Paysinger’ and I looked at him, and he looked back at me and kind of smiled. I heard some commotion around the room, kind of laughing – ‘This is really happening.’”
And that’s how Paysinger became a captain for a night.
“Some of the younger guys came over to me – Henry [Hynoski], Tyler, Mark [Herzlich], Greg Jones – and started calling me ‘captain’ or ‘cap,’” he said. “It was a great experience, definitely a blessing.”
Despite the team’s 20-17 loss, Paysinger was worthy of the nod, leading the Giants with five solo tackles. It came at the tail end of a training camp where Paysinger has continued to evolve from a reliable special teamer as an undrafted rookie last season to competing for time on defense.
“I was captain multiple times back at Oregon, so I’m thinking it’s going to be like that and everything,” Paysinger said of walking onto the field in front of a home crowd before the game. “But the fact that the head coach had the confidence in me was pretty special to me.”
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Da’Rel Scott now has a blocked punt to go along with a fake punt run for a touchdown on his Giants preseason resume.
The second-year running back made the play of the game on special teams against the Bears on Friday night, blocking Ryan Quigley’s punt late in the first half.
Linebacker Greg Jones recovered the ball at Chicago’s 10-yard line, and two plays later, Andre Brown ran in for a one-yard touchdown for the Giants.
“It was just something we were working on during the week,” Scott said. “I tried to use my skill set to set them up, do some speed rushes. I tried to set them up again, went outside, and then it opened up. It worked out.
“It takes a lot of practice. You’ve got to understand where the punter releases the ball and kicks it because there are a lot of different ways you can try to get there. But you’ve got to try to keep your eyes on the ball to stay on the blocked punt, that’s the main thing.”
In the fourth and final preseason game last year, Scott, then a rookie, received the direct snap on a fake punt play and broke it for a 65-yard score against the Patriots. It came two weeks after he had a “traditional” 97-yard rushing touchdown, coincidentally against the Bears as well.
Once again, Scott hopes to turn his preseason success into regular-season production, which he was unable to do last season, particularly in the run game. He tried to add to his cause on Friday with a 15-yard run, but netted just one yard on four other carries. He also had a catch-and-run for 12 yards midway through the third quarter, but Scott knows special teams play is the tiebreaker when it comes to roster decisions.
“In my situation right now, I’ve got to get noticed somewhere,” he said. “If it takes special teams to stay on this team, I’ve got to make that my main thing and just try to make plays out there.”
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