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Giants Sign Will Blackmon To Return Kicks

The New York Giants have signed former Green Bay Packer Will Blackmon in hopes of boosting their beleaguered kick return game.

The Giants lost their primary return man, Domenik Hixon, to a knee injury before training camp even began. They acquired return specialist Darius Reynaud along with backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels in a trade with Minnesota right before the season began.

Reynaud, however, has been a huge disappointment.

He’s averaged just 5.9 yards on 22 punt returns and 18.4 yards on 21 kickoff returns. His kickoff return average ranked him 33rd in the NFL among return men with at least 10 returns this season. His punt return average ranked 23rd.

Here is the background on Blackmon, from the Daily News.

Blackmon, who turned 26 yesterday, averaged 11 yards per punt return (47 for 515 yards and three touchdowns) and 21.1 per kickoff return (66-1,393) from 2007 through Week 4 of last year when he tore a ligament in his knee and ended up on injured reserve. The defensive back, who was a fourth-round pick by the Packers in 2006, tried to make a comeback this year but had preseason knee troubles and landed on injured reserve.

The Packers eventually waived him with an injury settlement. He worked out for the Giants on Tuesday. His agent said via e-mail that he will officially sign his contract "sometime today."Blackmon is thrilled to be back on an NFL roster.

The Giants liked what they saw from Blackmon in a workout earlier this week.

"Blackmon had a very good workout for us and showed that he has recovered nicely from a serious knee injury (which limited him to three games in 2009)," General Manager Jerry Reese said. "We expect him to get into the mix quickly on special teams. He has experience and production as a return specialist and cover specialist. He also has played both safety and corner, which gives us some flexibility there as well."

Blackmon is thrilled to be back in the NFL.

"It's awesome," Blackmon said of joining the Giants. "I was hoping I could finally get back on the field and make things happen. This opportunity opened up and I'm excited and my wife is excited.

"My knee is doing very well. I wouldn't be out there if I couldn't perform. I wasn't going to come here and give the Giants 80 percent of me. I'm feeling good."

Mathias Kiwanuka, whose roster spot Blackmon will take as Kiwanuka has landed on injured reserve, was a collegiate teammate of Blackmon's at Boston College. He is excited to see Blackmon with the Giants.

"It's tough, because we were a couple of weeks away from playing together again," said Kiwanuka, who was a first-round draft choice in 2006. "He got his papers from Green Bay, I was excited and heard there was a chance that he might come here, so I've been talking him up around the locker room. Man, he's a great player. I told everybody he's definitely the most talented and gifted athlete that I ever played football with, hands down. He made the switch from DB to wide receiver and didn't miss a beat, and obviously he is a very talented return guy, too. He can do it all."

Reynaud remains on the roster for now, but his only real job has been returning kicks. If he is not going to do that, it seems unlikely the Giants would keep him on the team.