At this point in the preseason most rookies are still trying to figure out their roles on teams. Most undrafted rookies are scrounging for reps to try to prove their worth. But Henry Hynoski, whom the Giants signed as a rookie free agent last week, has found himself in the most peculiar of spots.
He’s right in the huddle with the first offensive unit, taking calls from Eli Manning and blocking for Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
“That’s the pure fullback in the pure fullback position,” Tom Coughlin said of the only rookie to be getting first-team reps on either side of the ball in training camp. “Hopefully he’ll be the physical presence that we need.”
Hynoski believes he will be. He’s replacing Madison Hedgecock, who suffered from a chronic back issue and was released last week. The Giants used tight end Bear Pascoe to patch up the hole during the 2010 season while Hedgecock was injured, but with the departure of Kevin Boss in free agency they may need Pascoe to play more of his natural position. Hynoski has been there to handle the fullback job.
“You always need a thumper out there,” Hynoski said. “That’s why they brought me in here, to be a battering ram and catch some passes out of the backfield. I’m excited for the opportunity to do that.”
Hynoski, who is 6-1 and 265 pounds, has always been a fullback. Even in high school when he ran for over 7,000 yards he was a fullback playing in a Wing-T offense. When he was recruited by colleges, he knew his touches would decrease even if his contact was about to increase.
“To be a fullback you have to love the game, you have to love hitting people,” he said. “That’s what I do. I really don’t care about the publicity. I don’t need a thank you. I just love playing football and I just like hitting people.”
Coughlin may be optimistic about Hynoski, but until he can play against another team or get a few more practices in full pads he really won’t know if Hynoski can be the road-paver the team needs him to be.
“It’s tough for a fullback when you’re out in shells to come out and show what you can do hitting somebody,” Hynoski said.
But so far he’s been doing well with his assignments, something he said really clicked for him in his third day or practice. And he’s working on refining his technique, some of which is coming from the team’s director of player development Charles Way. With no other true fullback on the roster to work with and learn from, Way has taken Hynoski under his wing a bit.
“He’s been great,” Hynoski said of Way. “He was a great fullback himself. When we were at Pitt on some of the teach tapes we had, they were of Charles leading the way.”
Hynoski hopes to have the same kind of impact on the Giants that Way did. So far he’s shown an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield – something Hedgecock often struggled with – and he even hinted that there a few diagrams in the deep recesses of the playbook that are fullback handoffs.
But it’s clear what Hynoski’s primary job is for now. That’s hitting people. And it may just be his job when the regular season opens in September.