While the core of the kicking game stayed in place (long snapper, kicker, punter, and holder), coordinator Tom Quinn spent the preseason working and re-working his coverage and return outfits. In Week 1, he led off with rookie David Wilson on kickoff return and Domenik Hixon on punts.
The latter was a move in favor of having a veteran handling Dallas’ southpaw punter Chris Jones, especially on a primetime stage for the first game of the season.
“Experience, left-footed punter played an issue in that,” Quinn explained yesterday about choosing Hixon, the last Giant to return a kick (2007) or a punt (2009) for a touchdown. “Because the ball does spin a little bit differently for those guys. Those were the two factors.”
However, the Giants face a traditional righty this week with Tampa’s Michael Koenen, and that could mean time for Rueben Randle or Jayron Hosley, whom Quinn pointed out.
“We’ve got three guys we feel good with right now,” Quinn said. “How much they’re being used on offense and defense all plays into it.”
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Tags: Domenik Hixon, Jayron Hosley, Rueben Randle, Tom Quinn
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Worry not, Steve Weatherford is in safe hands.
In his seventh season and with 449 punts under his belt, Weatherford has never been on the wrong end of what happened to Brad Nortman last week against Tampa Bay – having one blocked.
In the Bucs’ Week 1 victory over the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib broke free on the edge and got to the rookie punter. The Bucs recovered and kicked a field goal on the ensuing drive for a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Making sure that won’t happen to Weatherford this week is Chase Blackburn, who has taken over the role of personal protector so far this season. Otherwise known as the fullback on the punt team, it was Tyler Sash’s position last season. The second-year safety was suspended for the first four games of 2012 by the NFL.
Blackburn, once the special teams captain back in 2010, has Weatherford covered as the last line of defense.
“He knows it better than anybody,” Weatherford said of Blackburn, an eight-year veteran. “I think he knows it probably even better than Sash, and that’s Sash’s position. Chase is extremely intelligent and he’s skilled, too. I feel 100 percent confident that he’ll make the right calls and make the blocks he needs to make. So we’re confident going into it. We don’t want to relax or anything, it’s pedal to the floor right now, but we’re excited for the challenge.”
Tom Quinn, who has been the Giants’ special teams coordinator since 2007, sees the same thing from the multifaceted Blackburn.
“He’s done that before for us,” Quinn said. “One game, I think it was 2010, he played guard one snap, fullback the next snap, the other guard the other snap. So he’s really versatile and he’s been here a long time and understands what we want.”
Quinn then broke down what he saw from Tampa’s special teams outfit under Bob Ligashesky, one of many new hires this season in Greg Schiano’s regime.
“It was well schemed and well executed,” Quinn said. “They are a very good punt-blocking team and they have speed and power. So it will be a big test for us protection-wise.”
Tags: Chase Blackburn, Steve Weatherford, Tom Quinn
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