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Giants’ unofficial depth chart: Suddenly, a real competition for the punting job

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Incumbent Riley Dixon has a new challenger

Oakland Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs
Johnny Townsend
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

The New York Giants claiming punter Johnny Townsend off waivers from the Oakland Raiders this week can only be read one way — there is now a real competition brewing for the Giants’ punting job.

Ryan Anderson punted fairly well during the spring and summer, but apparently the Giants never saw the left-footed one-time Rutgers punter as true competition for incumbent Riley Dixon.

The same can’t be said for Townsend, a 2018 fifth-round pick by the Raiders.

Townsend did not live up to expectations in Oakland last year. The 24-year-old averaged 43.2 yards per punt in 2018, 31st in the league, during his rookie season. He was 29th in the league with a 38.3-yard net average.

I reached out to Levi Damien of SB Nation’s Raiders web site, Silver & Black Pride, for thoughts on Townsend. Here are the results of a quick Q&A:

Ed: Why did the Raiders waive him? Seems like a quick give-up on a draft pick.

Levi: They would likely have cut him last season if they were playing for anything. He was statistically the worst punter in the NFL and didn’t really show the ability to improve in training camp.

As far as him being a draft pick, he was a consolation prize really. Michael Dickson went early in the fifth round and the Packers traded up to the spot just ahead of the Raiders to steal J.K. Scott. The Raiders settled for Townsend at that point, though they swore he was their guy all along because that’s what they have to say.

Ed: Was he as bad in 2018 as the stats indicate?

Levi: Yeah, I believe he was that bad. He simply doesn’t have that strong of a leg. He was supposed to make up for it by being a directional punter, but that part of his game never really materialized in a meaningful way. At one point in the season he had at least one below 30-yard shank in several games in a row and each shank was worse than the previous. He was clearly in his head.

Ed: If he beats out incumbent Riley Dixon for the Giants punting job, will that be because Townsend is good or Dixon is bad?

Levi: From my perspective, it’s probably because Dixon didn’t show he was noticeably better and Townsend is younger so they would take a chance Townsend could improve while they know what Dixon brings to the table. But I would be surprised if the Giants weren’t still going to find themselves scanning the waiver wires for a better option soon regardless.

Dixon, acquired from the Denver Broncos for a seventh-round pick, averaged 45.4 yards per punt last season. The Giants were seventh in the league with a net average of 42.9 yards per punt.

Dixon was 27th in the NFL in percentage of punts downed inside the 20-yard line at 28.2 percent. Townsend was last among 35 qualifying punters at 24.3 percent.

Below, a look at the Giants’ updated unofficial depth charts for Friday night’s Week 2 preseason game against the Chicago Bears.

Giants 2020 Depth Chart (Offense)

Position First Team Second Team Third Team Other
Position First Team Second Team Third Team Other
LT Andrew Thomas Cameron Fleming Eric Smith
LG Will Hernandez Chad Slade, Shane Lemieux Kyle Murphy
C Spencer Pulley Nick Gates Shane Lemieux Kyle Murphy
RG Kevin Zeitler Shane Lemieux Kyle Murphy
RT Nick Gates Cameron Fleming Matt Peart, Tyler Haycraft
TE Evan Engram Garrett Dickerson Rysen John
TE Kaden Smith Levine Toilolo Eric Tomlinson Kyle Markway
QB Daniel Jones Colt McCoy Cooper Rush Alex Tanney
WR Golden Tate Darius Slayton Cody Core Alex Bachman, Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor
WR Sterling Shepard Corey Coleman David Sills V Austin Mack, Tony Brown
RB Saquon Barkley Dion Lewis Wayne Gallman Javon Leake, Sandro Platzgummer
FB Elijhaa Penny

Giants 2020 Depth Chart (Defense)

DL Leonard Williams B.J. Hill
DL Dalvin Tomlinson Austin Johnson R.J. McIntosh
DL Dexter Lawrence Chris Slayton
OLB Oshane Ximines Kyler Fackrell Carter Coughlin
ILB Blake Martinez Josiah Tauaefa T.J. Brunson, Devante Downs Dominique Ross, Jaquarius Landrews
ILB Ryan Connelly David Mayo Tae Crowder Mark McLaurin
OLB Lorenzo Carter Cam Brown Niko Lalos
CB Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine Chris Williamson Christian Angulo, Jarren Williams
CB James Bradberry Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine
SCB Grant Haley, Julian Love Darnay Holmes Dravon Askew-Henry
SS Jabrill Peppers Sean Chandler Nate Ebner
FS Xavier McKinney Julian Love Montre Hartage

Giants 2020 Depth Chart (Special Teams)

P Riley Dixon
K Chandler Catanzaro
H Riley Dixon
LS Casey Kreiter
KR Corey Coleman Corey Ballentine Javon Leake
PR Golden Tate Corey Coleman