By Paul Dottino
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Give Jerry Reese credit for making two signings that may have barely registered on the odometer Tuesday, yet could go a long way in helping the Giants win some games.
The Giants re-signed veteran safety Deon Grant and added former Panthers kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd, squeezing two players under the cap with three preseason games to play.
Let’s take them one at a time.
The addition of Grant allows defensive coordinator to go back to using his three-headed “Ghidorah” safety package with the more athletic Grant taking the place of a linebacker. This scheme likely would not have been as effective as it was last season if they were forced to use either rookie safety Tyler Sash (struggled in coverage vs. Carolina last weekend) or giving extra snaps to corner Aaron Ross with Terrell Thomas moving inside (given up some run support).
At one point, the team hoped first-round DB Prince Amukamara might be able to challenge for Grant’s old role, but the lockout, the rookie’s holdout and then his fractured foot dashed those plans.
Grant is a smart player who’s not afraid to hit and provides a vocal spark at practice, in the locker room and as part of the huddle.
Lloyd was brought in because Lawrence Tynes suffered a thigh bruise against Carolina and may not be able to kick against Chicago on Monday. But Lloyd may have a chance to stick in what’s become an intriguing development.
Coach Tom Coughlin said he and his staff have talked about kickoff strategy since the spot of the ball is being moved from the 30 to the 35 this year: Do you go for hang time or try for the touchback? Lloyd (who’s never tried an NFL field goal) specializes in touchbacks – he has 64 in 224 career kickoffs. Lloyd has averaged 67 yards per kickoff over parts of four NFL seasons. Tynes has averaged 62 yards in his career.
What better way to inhibit an opponents’ return game, given how poorly the Giants have been covering kicks over the past couple of seasons? Coughlin also has stated he prefers to keep two quarterbacks – and with the new rule allowing 46 active players on game day (with no third quarterback) – he may decide he’s got the room to keep a kickoff specialist.
NOTES: The Giants also signed veteran safety/special teams ace Derrick Martin, wavied safety Cary Harris and waived/injured receiver Sam Giguere (groin). … Michael Boley (back) and Sage Rosenfels (strep throat) were surprise additions to the list of those who did not practice. Jason Pierre-Paul (back) and Darius Reynaud (hamstring) did not finish the workout.
Do you think Grant will make a big difference for the Giants this season? Let Dottino know in the comments below…