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Can Hunter Sharp win role as kick returner, reserve wide receiver?

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His work with the Giants has been impressive thus far

Washington Redskins v New York Giants
Hunter Sharp celebrates a touchdown in last year’s season finale.
Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

Even in the smoldering rubble of disaster, sometimes good things happen. For the New York Giants, perhaps stumbling across wide receiver/kick returner Hunter Sharp near the end of their disastrous 3-13 2017 season will be such a good thing.

Let’s focus on Sharp as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 198
Position: Wide receiver/kick returner
Experience: 1

2017 season in review

Sharp joined the injury-ravaged, desperate Giants for the final two games of the season, signed off the practice squad of the Denver Broncos. An undrafted free agent from Utah State, he made Denver’s practice squad after a preseason that saw him catch six passes for 92 yards (15.3 yards per catch) and return one punt for 17 yards.

He appeared in one regular season game for the Broncos, and then the two end-of-season games for New York. With the Giants, he caught 5 passes for 54 yards (10.8 yards per catch) with one touchdown. Sharp averaged 6.3 yards for the Giants on three punt returns and had one kickoff return for 19 yards.

2018 outlook

Let’s start with this — someone has to be the primary kickoff and punt returner. Saquon Barkley might return some kickoffs, but it’s doubtful he would do so full time. Odell Beckham isn’t going to do it. Cody Latimer has some kickoff return experience, but no punt return experience. Sharp showed potential in that role during his brief stint with the Giants. In college, he averaged 30.3 yards on 13 kickoff returns and 6.4 yards on 10 punt returns.

Sharp also impressed last season by quickly assimilating himself into the offense and becoming a useful target for Eli Manning.

His strong work continued this spring. The Giants did little to nothing when it came to practicing the return game, but Sharp seemed to be on the receiving end of quite a few downfield throws from Manning and the other Giants’ quarterbacks.

If he can carry that strong play into training camp and the preseason, sharp could carve out a role as a returner and occasional wide receiver for the Giants.