By now you’ve probably heard about the bad news regarding Domenik Hixon. Jerry Reese spoke to reporters about trying to replace him as a punt returner this afternoon, and there were two names he threw out there as candidates that came immediately to his mind: Mario Manningham and Aaron Ross.

Funny. Ross has been thinking about that too.

Before the test results on Hixon’s knee came back, I spoke with Ross in the locker room following this morning’s practice and asked him about what appears to be an increased special teams role that he’s playing this offseason. Specifically I asked him if it was just a matter of mixing things up and trying new things in the spring or if the Giants are serious about him in that capacity.

“I hope it’s for real,” Ross said. “I like special teams. I’ve been asking to do it so hopefully I’ll finally get that chance.”

Ross returned punts in college, but has not done so in the NFL. A big part of that is because the Giants are reticent to use their starting players in those vulnerable special teams roles. Even when Hixon was a starting receiver he had to give up his returning duties.

But this season, ironically, that might not be an issue for Ross. He lost his starting job last year when he was injured and Terrell Thomas stepped in, and this spring Thomas has looked very strong – strong enough to keep Ross on the bench (or at least in the nickel package only).

“I don’t know how that’s going to work,” he said of the cornerback battle. “Hey, I just want to catch punts. Hopefully I get a chance to do it. I don’t know what the situation is going to be as far as starting or not, but I want to catch punts.”

He may get his chance now.

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