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Kickoff Specialist Rhys Lloyd Signs With Giants

Rhys Lloyd, one of the NFL's premier kickoff specialists, has been signed by the New York Giants. The team announced the signing last Tuesday.

Lloyd has played in 50 NFL games and has kicked off 220 times – but has never attempted a regular season field goal or extra point. 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.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin had hinted that Lawrence Tynes' thigh bruise, suffered in an the preseason opener against Carolina, would give the Giants an 'opportunity' to consider other kickers.

Bringing in Lloyd, however, might be considered a surprise. With the NFL's new kickoff rule placing the ball at the 35-yard line rather than the 30, some might consider the pure kickoff specialist less important. The Giants, however, have struggled with kickoff coverage in recent years and the signing of Lloyd might be more than a one-week stopgap. It might indicate a willingness by the Giants to carry an extra kicker to largely alleviate that issue.

The Giants pursued Lloyd, 29, prior to last season, but he chose to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota released him prior to the start of the 2010 season.