AP Photo - Kathy Willens
The Giants continued their recovery from the awful news they received last week - that wide receiver and special teams ace Domenik Hixon was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Hixon, a dependable reserve WR that has started previously and also the club's top return threat and one of its best cover guys, will miss the entire 2010 season.
“Domenik has nothing but respect from everyone here,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “He is an excellent teammate. He is a guy that we are all personally very fond of. He is completely reliable and dependable; just an outstanding young man, outstanding leader in the locker room, a stand tall guy, a guy who is very positive, always very re-enforcing for his unit as receivers and special teams. It is a major disappointment because I think we all wanted to believe – he had something similar to that a year ago – and we all wanted to believe that it wasn’t inevitably what it turned out to be. We were disappointed and greatly upset.
“But I saw Domenik and told him that first and foremost our concern is for him. He assures me that he will get this taken care of and he will be here to support his teammates and looks forward to coming back.”
Two of the team’s coordinators – Kevin Gilbride on offense and Tom Quinn on special teams – said they will miss Hixon’s contributions on and off the field.
“It would embarrass him for me to say what he means,” Gilbride said. “But to be honest, he is just what you are looking for as a human being, first and foremost. Every day in the meetings, out on the practice field – he is as professional a guy as we have on our football team. And so just his example of his enthusiasm, his encouragement to his fellow players, he is tremendous. It manifests itself in the kicking game because he gets more opportunities there. He is the guy. He has been on our third, he has been our second at times, he has been our fourth receiver – he has been an integral part of what we do passing-wise. So as a receiver, we will miss him terribly. As the man that he is, and the example he sets and the encouragement that he gives everybody else, you are not going to replace him. That is going to be a tough pill to swallow.”
Hixon led the Giants with averages of 15.1 yards on 17 punt returns and 22.6 yards on 57 kickoff returns. He also had seven special teams tackles.
“(It’s) definitely a big loss,” Quinn said. “(Hixon is) such a great team player - very competitive, does everything we ask of him, whether it is offense or special teams. He is a return specialist, but he is also is a very good cover guy on kickoff and punt. So you really have to replace four starting positions on the punt/punt return/kickoff/kickoff return.”
The Giants will look at several candidates for the return jobs, including Mario Manningham, Aaron Ross and rookie Chad Jones.
“We have a lot of guys working in those capacities,” Coughlin said. “This is an opportunity for someone to step up and be recognized in that role, certainly, and in all of the special teams roles. Domenik was always very much involved in our receiving corps, as well. There were many days you guys watched that he looked to be the best receiver on the field. But this is an opportunity for someone. And we challenge the guys to be able to take advantage of that.”
“You obviously look to who you have and we do have a lot of talented guys that can do that,” Quinn said. “We always put a big emphasis early in the OTAs on guys catching punts. So we will have about eight offensive guys, eight defensive guys and we work them all out and have them catch. But Aaron obviously has the return experience and it is something that he has always wanted to do. He has been bugging us to let him to do it. This might be his opportunity. Mario is another guy. We have Sinorice (Moss). We have Chad Jones. Last year we had four guys that returned punts for us – Ahmad Bradshaw, Corey Webster even had to do it. We had three guys in one game. So you always have to be prepared to have some depth.”