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Giants vs. Eagles 2015, Week 6: Darren Sproles a challenge for Giants

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Darren Sproles returning a punt
Darren Sproles returning a punt
Rob Carr/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, New York Giants punter Brad Wing told Big Blue View that his job really comes down to one no-always-so-simple thing -- take the opposing punt returner out of the game.

"The whole thing that I'm trying to do is just eliminate return man. That's everybody on the punt team. We just want to take their returners out of the game, that's the main focus," Wing said at the time.

Eliminating the punt return man against the Eagles would be a really good idea for the Giants, since that return man is the dangerous Darren Sproles. Sproles averages 19.9 yards on nine punt returns so far this season, second in the league. He has the league's longest return this season, an 89-yard scamper for a touchdown. Sproles has six career punt return touchdowns and averages 9.4 yards for his career on 243 returns.

"Great catch mechanics, he gets a head start, he's very elusive," said Giants special teams coordinator Tom Quinn. "You see him on offense and what he can do there, he does the same thing in the return game. If you give him any space at all, he's real elusive, quick, explosive and he can finish. Legit."

Wing, acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers in a trade right before the start of the season, has excelled thus far at minimizing punt return yardage. Wing leads the league in punts downed inside the 20-yard line with 13 in only 22 attempts. That is 59 percent. He is second in the league in punts resulting in fair catches, with nine. His 53 return yards allowed is second in the league among punters with at least 20 attempts, as is his average return against of 5.9 yards. Wing's net average per punt is 41.2 yards, 11th overall.

Head coach Tom Coughlin has been pleased with his new punter.

"He's done a nice job," Coughlin said. "He's given us directional punting and he's given us a ball to be downed inside -- I like them inside the five, we have two inside the five."

There is also the matter of dealing with Sproles and DeMarco Murray catching passes out of the backfield. The Giants have struggled defending the intermediate pass to opposing tight ends and running backs this season. The Giants give up 78.9 yards per game to opposing tight ends, nearly 30 yards above league average. The give up 62.7 yards per game receiving to opposing running backs, 18..7 above league average.

Sproles has 16 receptions this season and Murray 18. With 434 receptions over his 10-year career, you can bet that throwing the ball to Sproles will be a big part of the Philly offensive game plan.

"He's a challenge because of what he does. You see it. It's a linebacker on him and he beats them all the time and even safeties," said Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. "So we've got to find the right people to do the right thing to get some help somewhere because he is a main featured guy in it, no matter what down it is. I mean he's in there, he's a featured guy. You can see they have special packages for him. They put two running backs in there and it looks like it's the Sproles package because they find ways to get to him. Great deal of respect for him."

The Giants, both in the return game and on offense, will be well aware of Sproles on Monday night.