Positional analysis: Special teams

February, 14, 2013
2/14/13
8:31
PM ET
David WilsonJim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsDavid Wilson sparked the Giants special teams with 1,533 return yards and a touchdown.
We’ve been taking a look toward 2013 with a position-by-position breakdown of the Giants leading into the scouting combine and free agency.

So far, we have analyzed quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and the secondary. Today is the final installment with special teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS

2012 depth chart: K Lawrence Tynes, P Steve Weatherford, LS Zak DeOssie, KR David Wilson, PR Domenik Hixon, PR Rueben Randle.

Overview: Tynes started off strong, converting 24 of his first 26 attempts and made four or more field goals in four of the first eight games. But after the hot start, Tynes missed a field goal in four of the next six games and did not attempt a field goal in the last two games. Tynes converted all 46 of his extra point attempts and had 24 touchbacks on kickoffs.

Weatherford punted 24 fewer times than in 2011. His average went up by nearly two yards to 47.5 yards per punt with a net average of 39.4. Weatherford landed 22 punts inside the 20, just three fewer than he had in 2011.

[+] EnlargeLawrence Tynes
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsWill Lawrence Tynes go or will he stay?
Wilson made an instant impact on special teams, setting the franchise record with 1,533 return yards and a touchdown and helping the Giants finish tied for sixth in kickoff return yard average (26.2). He provided the kind of dynamic, explosive element the Giants have been lacking in the kickoff return game.

Punt return, though, is still an area that needs more bite. Randle and Hixon didn’t make any major mistakes but they averaged just 7.2 yards per punt return. The Giants’ coverage units remained strengths and did not give up any touchdowns on punts or kickoffs.

Free agents: Tynes, Hixon.

2013 personnel preview: After kicking the Giants into two Super Bowls with game-winning field goals in the NFC Championship game during the 2007 and 2011 seasons, Tynes is entering free agency. The Giants signed former Cowboy kick David Buehler and kicker/punter Jake Rogers so far in the offseason in the case that Tynes does not return.

With Wilson set to potentially be the starting running back with Ahmad Bradshaw gone, the Giants will have to figure out what they want to do at kick returner. If the Giants want to protect Wilson and lighten his load, Jerrel Jernigan could be a candidate to return kickoffs. He took one kickoff 60 yards on a return. Wilson will probably want to remain on kickoffs. Hixon, who is a free agent, and Randle, may compete for the punt return duties again.

Salary cap situation: Considering that the Giants went out and signed Buehler and Rogers, they might be preparing for the prospect of Tynes leaving for more money. The Giants may re-sign Hixon for depth at receiver.

Tell us what you think of the Giants’ special teams going into 2013 and what you want to see happen in the offseason.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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