Read needs to fill in 'special' pieces

When new coach <STRONG>Bruce Read </STRONG>surveyed New York's special teams upon taking over in January, he liked what he saw. Read's new units boasted a future Hall-of-Fame kicker in <STRONG>Morten Andersen</STRONG>, an electric punt returner in <STRONG>Tiki Barber </STRONG>and solid, dependable players in place to handle the long-snapping (<STRONG>Jason Whittle</STRONG>) and holding (<STRONG>Jason Garrett</STRONG>) chores.

Now Read has none of that.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge," said Read, who replaced Fred von Appen as New York's special teams coach. "We have the (supporting) guys, but we need the main ones."

His first task is to find a new kicker since Andersen signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs after a season in New York. Owen Pochman is the man for now, but only time will tell how he'll fare. An outsider (Brad Daluiso?) could always be brought in to do the job.

With Rodney Williams in place, the club's punter is set, but there's no doubt that Read wants to see more consistency from Williams than the Giants received last season.

"He's got the talent, but we want to see him do it game in and game out," Read explained. "He has a strong leg but we also don't want to out-kick our coverage."

Read would love to retain Barber as his punt returner, but understands that Head Coach Jim Fassel wants to save him for offense-only duty. That means rookie Daryl Jones will have the first chance to replace Barber. 

The kickoff returners are still up in the air. Second-round pick Tim Carter is the leading candidate, but there could also be a battle between Ron Dixon and Jonathan Carter, a fight that may cost one or the other his roster spot.

But Read's main concerns involve the club's glaring lack of a snapper and a holder. Whittle and Chris Bober are now in the starting line-up, so they're out of the running for the long-snapper post, and fifth-round pick Nick Greisen is "a year away," according to Read. That means the club is likely to bring in someone from the outside, unless Jody Littleton, currently toiling in NFL Europe, can do the trick.

At least the Giants are hopeful that the newcomer will be snapping to back-up QB Jesse Palmer. With Garrett still unsigned and Williams still recovering from a broken wrist, it's Palmer's job to lose.

"We've given Jesse a crash course right now," Read said. "But we're going to need him to pick it up fast."


The Giants Beat Top Stories