John Fennelly, Lead Writer
One of better stories coming out of QDTC this spring will be the transformation of the Giants’ return game from an uphill struggle to a downhill stampede.
Last season, without a healthy David Wilson, the kickoff return game went from 7th (26.2 YPR) in 2012 to 27th overall (21.2 YPR). Michael Cox led the Giants in returns with 20, his longest going for 56 yards.
Punt returns remained a dormant exercise. The emphasis continued to be on ball security. There were 26 fair catches. Rueben Randle averaged 8.2 yards on 29 returns with a long of 32.
This year, the Giants will seek to capitalize on their revamped units. They are hoping that Wilson, who led the NFL in kickoff return yards in 2012, can make it back this season. If he doesn’t, the Giants have an alternate plan.
GM Jerry Reese signed free agent Quentin Demps, who was third overall in the league in KO return average (30.1 YPR) and Trindon Holliday , who finished fifth in the league wit a 27.7 average. Both players should make returns a more pleasurable watch for Giant fans this fall.
Holliday will likely be the team’s primary punt returner this season. He returned 32 punts for Denver last season for an average of 8.5 YPR, very similar to Randle, but Holliday took one to the house (an 81-yarder vs the Giants) while Randle has yet to break one.
Regardless, the specials have a more exciting look and feel to them as the Giants aim to better their field position this season.
In 2013, the Giants began their drives on the 27.3 yard line, which was 11th worst in the NFL. They haven’t had a punt returned for a TD since Domenik Hixon torched the Cowboys in 2007. It’s about time they invested in their special teams.