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Giants’ special teams eying dynamic boost from Jabrill Peppers

Leading into the start of training camp (rookies report July 22, veterans July 24) The Post will provide Giants fans with a position-by-position look at the roster.

Taking everything into consideration, the Giants graded out as the best special teams unit in the NFC East, according to Pro Football Focus. This does not say a great deal about the special teams prowess of the Eagles, Redskins and Cowboys, and the grade of 75.9 was largely fueled by the breakout season from kicker Aldrick Rosas. Quietly, though, coordinator Thomas McGaughey put together a credible unit, a task made more difficult with all the roster upheaval that always trickles down to special teams.

Key returnees: Aldrick Rosas, Riley Dixon, Zak DeOssie, Corey Coleman

Key additions: Jabrill Peppers

The rundown: The new front office and coaching staff easily could have jettisoned Rosas, a kicker inherited from the previous regime, after Rosas displayed potential but also plenty of inconsistency as a rookie in 2017. Sticking with the youngster (Rosas is 24) proved to be prescient, as he hit 31 of his 32 field-goal attempts (the lone miss was from 52 yards) to set a franchise record for accuracy and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Dixon arrived from the Broncos and put 20 punts down inside the 20-yard line, helped by excellent coverage units led by Antonio Hamilton. The return game last season got a boost from Corey Coleman, who averaged 26 yards on his 23 kickoff returns. The arrival of Jabrill Peppers should further enhance the return game, as Peppers has extensive experience on kickoffs and punts from his days at Michigan and with the Browns. He is a safety by trade but also a weapon with the ball in his hands, and the Giants will turn him loose.

Key camp battles: At this point, Rosas is the only place-kicker on the roster heading into training camp, so his only competition will be with himself as he readies for year No. 3. What can he do for an encore? Make every single field-goal attempt. Dixon averaged 45.4 yards per punt in 2018 and could be challenged by Ryan Anderson, a left-footed punter who was the first-ever All-Big Ten player at Rutgers (he made it in 2017), although it is Dixon’s job to lose. DeOssie returns for a 13th season, the longest-tenured Giants player after Eli Manning, and remains a top-level long-snapper, uncommonly strong in making the snap and then rushing down the field to get involved in the coverage.

The verdict: The potential is there for this to be an excellent unit and a positive force for the Giants this season. Rosas is a weapon, with outstanding range on his field goals and with his kickoffs. Peppers averaged 7.3 yards on 55 punt returns for the Browns and could team with Coleman to form a dynamic duo. As with all special teams units, the key will be how quickly the rookies work into the mix. Watch for rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly to emerge on the coverage units.

Original article: https://nypost.com/2019/07/11/giants-special-teams-eying-dynamic-boost-from-jabrill-peppers/

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