For Meggett, not many happy returns

December 04, 1993|By Newsday

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- David Meggett has been featured as a multiple-purpose weapon in the New York Giants' offense since he burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie in 1989. This year he has been used as a running back, wide receiver and third-down specialist. He also has thrown for two touchdowns on option passes.

But Meggett, a Towson State alumnus, doesn't want to lose sight of what got him into this league in the first place: his ability as a kick returner. It is one reason he feels a certain frustration this season even though the Giants are in sole possession of first place in the NFC East at 8-3.

Meggett's kickoff and punt-return averages this year are significantly below his career average.

"It's one of the areas we need to concentrate on," Meggett said. "I haven't had any big returns this year. Part of it could be me and part of it could be my return guys, the guys that are up front for me. The bottom line is I have to get it done."

After averaging 10.9 yards per punt return during his first four seasons, Meggett is averaging 8.8 yards on 24 returns this year. He already has signaled for 14 fair catches this year, tying his career high of 14 during his 1989 rookie season.

Only two of his returns have gone for more than 15 yards, a 19-yarder against Tampa Bay and a 20-yarder against Dallas.

Likewise, his numbers are down in kickoff returns. After a four-year average of 21.9 yards per return, Meggett is averaging 17.8 this year.

Meggett shakes his head when he reviews the numbers and blames two factors for his decline. First, opponents are gearing their game plans to minimize his returns. "Each year it gets harder and harder," he said. "When you've established yourself and you've been in the league a little while, teams know some of the things you do. They're not going to give you the opportunity to do those things anymore."

Secondly, the Giants' return teams are stocked with young players still learning the importance of their roles.

"We've got a lot of young guys who haven't played special teams," he said. "I don't really think they know the impact special teams can have on a game."

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