Cotton fabric may be lightweight to wear during intense physical activity or in humid conditions, but for a soccer player tasked with handling the ball, it’s not the best choice to wear on the arms.
So says New York Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, who took some of the blame for the first of Richie James’ two missed punts two weeks ago against Seattle because he didn’t realize James had opted to use a cotton undershirt with sleeves under the undershirt. .
McGaughey explained why cotton and sleeves, in general, aren’t the best options when it comes to securing a tight, high ball.
“The ball will slide. Anytime you have a regular leather ball against a smooth surface, and it’s not leather, that’s something you don’t want.”
That said, McGaughey also acknowledged that James took a shot that sent the ball flying out of his hands.
“You have to hold on to the ball,” he said. “That’s football. Good fundamentals, good technique, keep the ball, double (two hands on the ball) in trouble. When you get into traffic, you have to cover the ball.”
James suffered a concussion on his second missed punt and was cleared to return to full practice Wednesday. But McGaughey did not commit to announcing James, who has three missed punts on the year, as the future punt returner.
“We’re going to let the week unfold and see what happens,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys in the back catching them. Obviously, you can’t put the ball on the ground. We all know that. That’s a no-brainer. You know you can’t flip the ball over and put it on the ground. So, we’ll see what happens once we get to the end of the week.”
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Other options include cornerbacks Darnay Holmes and Adoree’ Jackson and receivers Darius Slayton and rookie Kalil Pimpleton.
Pimpleton, who is currently on the practice squad, is an intriguing option to take over as the primary punt returner. In 2021, he had 16 punt returns for 305 yards and two touchdowns for Central Michigan. Legitimate comeback experience could push the undrafted rookie into a pivotal role.
“Pimp has been working all season,” McGaughey said. “Since he’s been here, he’s been back to catching punts. Therefore, he gets the job from him every day, he catches after practice. I mean, all those guys are trapping.
“Darnay is catching after practice, during practice, but no, all those guys are in the back catching. They’re all working on it and they’re all trying to get better, and that’s all we do. Just trying to get better every week and contribute in a positive way.”
As for James, McGaughey has been trying to help comfort the receiver so he doesn’t lose confidence.
“Everything I do when dealing with players is always to build them up; it is never to knock them down,” he said. “I tell you all the time that there are two kinds of knowledge in life: borrowed and bought. Sometimes you buy it, sometimes you borrow it. Richie bought it. So he just has to keep his head up.
“This game is about adversity, and it’s not about what happens to you; it’s about how you react to what happens to you. It’s going to be a test for him and we’ll see what happens. We’ve got a lot of guys competing for the spot, and we’ll see what’s going on”.
The Giants host the Houston Texans 1-6-1 on Sunday. New York is 17-34 in games after the bye.
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