Darius Reynaud #27 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball...

Darius Reynaud #27 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball back against the Seattle Seahawks during a preseason game. (Aug. 28, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Backup quarterback might have been the most glaring need for the Giants, but with any luck, Sage Rosenfels won't even play in next Sunday's opener against the Panthers. Darius Reynaud, on the other hand, likely will have a prominent role.

The receiver-turned-running back acquired as part of the trade between the Giants and Vikings Friday night will become the team's new kickoff and punt returner right away. The Giants, who lost Domenik Hixon in a minicamp injury and tried Aaron Ross as a punt returner before he tore his plantar fascia, are expected to use Reynaud immediately.

"The timing of this move was outstanding in terms of our ability to solve a couple of problems and move forward," Tom Coughlin said.

Reynaud has been more of a punt returner than kickoff returner in his two NFL seasons. Last year he was fourth among NFC qualifiers with a 10.3-yard average on punt returns. He returned only four kickoffs.

Unlike Rosenfels, who must master the Giants' offensive playbook, Reynaud will have a simpler charge: Catch the ball when it is kicked, then run.

"I'll be starting out with the specialists," Reynaud said. "They say they need a big return guy and they were looking at me. I love returning punts. If you can make that first guy miss, you're off to the races. That's one thing I love about punt return."

Reynaud said he wasn't expecting to be traded, but Coughlin said the team has had an eye on him for a while because of his speed and his versatility.

"He'll learn to be a receiver so he can help you out in an emergency situation," Coughlin said. "He can learn two or three running plays and help you out there as well."

But his primary job won't be on offense.

"The biggest need he fills for us right away is to give us some pop as a return specialist," general manager Jerry Reese said.

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