Kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd has signed with the New York Giants, the team announced late Tuesday evening. Rhys is one of the NFL’s premier kickoff specialists. Sixty-four of his 220 kickoffs have been touchbacks, a rate of 29.1 percent. In 2008, he led the NFL with 30 touchbacks on 88 kickoffs (34.1 percent) for the Carolina Panthers.
The Giants needed another placekicker with Lawrence Tynes having suffered a thigh bruise during Saturday's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers. Tynes is day-to-day, but the Giants seemingly wanted another kicker for both practice and for insurance in the event Tynes is not ready for full kicking duties Monday night against the Chicago Bears.
The interesting thing about the Lloyd signing will be whether it turns out to be simple training camp insurance for the Giants, or whether they will actually keep both Tynes and Lloyd in an effort to improve their kickoff coverage. The Giants struggled in that area a season ago, and in their preseason opener there were some missed tackles from that unit.
Tynes is among the league's poorest kickers when it comes to the distance of his kickoffs. His 61.8-yard average on kickoffs a season ago means the majority of his kickoffs would not reach the end zone even with the new kickoff rules putting the ball at the 35-yard line rather than the 30.
The Giants now have the option of choosing to use Lloyd's strong leg to help alleviate their kickoff issue. They would have to keep both kickers, though, since Lloyd has never attempted a field goal in an NFL game.