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New York Giants Search for New Return Men

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New York Giants special teams coordinator Tom Quinn doesn't say much, but when asked if he thought running back David Wilson, who dazzled as a kickoff returner last year, might be able to juggle double duty this season, Quinn smiled.

"I think he can do both," he said, adding, "That's not my decision. (Wilson) said he'd like to do both, but it all depends on the game and his carries and what his role is on the offense if it is expanded."

With former starter Ahmad Bradshaw having been jettisoned of the roster as part of a salary cap purge earlier this offseason, Wilson, last year's number one draft pick, is expected to step into the starting role, where he'll share his carries with Andre Brown.

While the Giants would presumably be reluctant to alter something that worked last year - Wilson's 2012 production on kickoff returns (57 returns for 1,533 yards and one touchdown) was the best they've had since 2009, when former receiver Domenik Hixon returned 57 kickoffs for 1,291 yards -- the Giants are keeping their options open.

"We'll see how it all plays out. Obviously, he's tremendous at (returning kickoffs)," Quinn said. "With his expanded role, we'll see where it leads and hopefully someone else does step up."

Who that someone else is that Quinn is looking for is perhaps the million-dollar question. In the past, the Giants have tried receivers Jerrel Jernigan and Rueben Randle as kickoff returners, but neither of them came even close to logging the same production as Wilson.

The punt returner situation is no clearer, either. Last season, Randle finished as the team leader in punt returns, with 15 for 108 yards and no touchdowns. The Giants haven't cracked the 200-yard return yardage mark on punt returns since 2009, when Hixon, who held the role from 2007 to 2009 before suffering the first of two consecutive ACL injuries, returned 17 punts for 256 yards, and one touchdown.

Veteran candidates for this role include defensive back Laron Scott, a return specialist who, after spending last season on the practice squad, will compete to land a spot on the 53-man roster; and cornerback Jayron Hosley, who tried his hand at the job early last season before it was removed from his responsibilities.

They might also look at cornerback Aaron Ross, who rejoined the team this year after a season in Jacksonville. Ross dabbled with the role earlier in his career with the Giants, but because he was a starter on defense at the time, the coaches opted to go in a different direction.

"I'm sure he will be in the mix," Quinn said, clarifying that Ross was being considered for the punt return game. "We do have to identify someone if they can be a punt returner that can make a difference because that's something that's been lagging the last couple of years.

"In '08 and '09 we were pretty happy with it. The last couple of years it wasn't anywhere near where it needs to be, so we've got to find someone to step up and take that role. "

The Giants have had some interest with return specialist Josh Cribbs, an unrestricted free agent from Cleveland who was in for a visit. Cribbs is reportedly seeking a multiyear deal, and has drawn other suitors for his services.

Patricia Traina is a New Jersey-based, accredited sportswriter who covers the New York Giants for Inside Football and the Sports Xchange. She is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow her on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.

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