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Can Giants contain Atlanta's Devin Hester?

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Hester presents huge challenge for Giants kickoff and punt coverage teams.

This sight, Devin Hester returning a kick for a touchdown, is one the Giants don't want to see Sunday
This sight, Devin Hester returning a kick for a touchdown, is one the Giants don't want to see Sunday
Kevin C. Cox

Devin Hester. His name strikes fear into opposing coaches, punters, placekickers and anyone on coverage units. With good reason, of course. He is as good or better than anyone in NFL history has ever been better at returning punts and kickoffs.

Earlier this season, Hester set the career record for punt return touchdowns when he returned a punt 62 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 14th punt return touchdown of his career.

Hester also has five kickoff return touchdowns for touchdowns.

His average of 12.3 yards per punt return is first among active players and fourth all-time. He is averaging 15.3 yards this season.

For his career, he is averaging 24.8 yards per kickoff return. This season, that average is 25.6 yards.

After eight years with the Chicago Bears, the 31-year-old Hester is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons. That means the New York Giants have to deal with him on Sunday.

Giants' punter Steve Weatherford is known as one of the game's best directional punters. The one time this season that Weatherford did not hit a punt where he aimed it the result was a 71-yard touchdown return by Ted Ginn of the Arizona Cardinals.

Weatherford has punted 18 times in four games, and aside from the Ginn return, only five other punts have been returned by the opposition for a total of only 19 yards. That is 3.8 yards per return.

"He presents a challenge no question. We don't have to make any drastic changes. Having sound protection and directional punts will help to corral him," Weatherford said. "No doubt he is a special player."

When it comes to kickoffs, the best-case scenario for the Giants would be to see placekicker Josh Brown knocks the ball through the end zone each time. That probably isn't realistic, though. Josh Brown has kicked off 20 times this season and only seven of those have been returned. The Giants have given up just 18.3 yards per kickoff return thus far, second in the league.

The Falcons come into this game with a struggling defense and a wounded offensive line. They will likely need some big plays to pull off an upset. For the Giants, containing Hester is one way to eliminate Atlanta's opportunity to make those plays.

Can they do it?