Thomas McGaughey, the Giants’ special teams coordinator, would not say who will return punts against the Texans on Sunday.
But one thing is certain: Whoever he is will not be wearing sleeves.
McGaughey cited the fact that Richie James was wearing cotton sleeves as a factor in him fumbling away two punts in chilly Seattle in a 27-13 loss on Oct. 30. “It was my fault,” McGaughey said on Wednesday. “I should have told him to take it off. I’m normally all over that. It was my fault. I slipped on that one.”
James said after practice that he was told not to speak to reporters, citing his time in concussion protocol after suffering a blow in the Seattle game. But earlier, coach Brian Daboll said James was out of concussion protocol.
McGaughey said that using anything on one’s arms can lead to the ball slipping.
“Any time you have a regular leather ball up against a smooth surface and it’s not skin, that’s something that you don’t want,” he said. “That’s why you rarely see running backs have sleeves on.”
Asked whether there is any material better suited to the job than cotton, McGaughey said, “No — skin. When you carry the ball, you want that ball firmly up against your body and don’t want anything to make it slide or move while you’re carrying it.”
While McGaughey would not commit to James returning punts on Sunday, he did say he would support the player and try to build back his confidence.
“I tell them all the time there are two types of knowledge in life: It’s borrowed and it’s bought,” McGaughey said. “Sometimes you buy it, sometimes you borrow it, and Richie bought it.
“So, he’s just got to keep his head up. This game is about adversity and it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to what happens to you. It will be a test for him, and we’ll see what happens. We’ve got a lot of guys competing for the spot and we’ll see what happens.”