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News » Hixon steps in for Plax

Hixon steps in for Plax

Hixon steps in for Plax
Charlie Frye may not have much relevance in the NFL today as the backup quarterback for the Seahawks, but the Giants can thank him for one of their starting wide receivers this week.

Domenik Hixon, who will replace Plaxico Burress today, was a starting safety for the University of Akron for two years, but when he entered his junior season, the Zips had a problem.

Frye, their senior quarterback, was looking ahead toward a big splash in the NFL draft, but he had lost almost all of his receivers to graduation. They needed someone for him to throw to, an athlete with big-play potential. So they switched Hixon from safety to wide receiver.

"You know what, it was something for the team," Hixon said of the switch with a wistful sigh. "Personally, I would have liked to stay at DB, but it was something the team needed."

It was that kind of attitude more than skills at any particular position that attracted the Giants to Hixon when he entered the NFL. They didn't have a chance to grab him out of college - he was a fourth-round pick by the Broncos in 2006 - but when Denver waived him after only four games last season, the Giants quickly added him to their burgeoning roster.

Last week, he racked up 269 all-purpose yards, including 180 on three kickoff returns. This week, he'll start his second game at wide receiver this season. He'll be stepping in for Burress, who already was out with a hamstring injury and then accidently shot himself in the right thigh early yesterday morning.

When the Giants claimed Hixon last fall, they had no idea where he would fit into their plans. Only that he would.

"We liked him when he came out [of college], and we were anxious to see him," Tom Coughlin said. "We knew right away the quality of his competitive drive, under any circumstance."

Added Coughlin: "He accepts all of his roles."

And there are plenty.

Not only did he return kickoffs for the first time last week - a role he might return to this week depending on his offensive responsibilities and injuries to other players - but he has been a solid punt returner this season. And he's been a standout on other special-teams units as well. He made two tackles as a gunner on punt coverage last Sunday, one of them a terrific hit on the first punt of the game, and leads the team with nine solo tackles on special teams.

It's in that role, he said, that he gets the defensive fix that he admits missing from the days when he was a safety. Tearing down the field, looking for someone to drill, somehow takes him back to those days before he had to worry about precise routes and timing with the quarterback.

"He's very athletic, very aggressive, and he likes to hit," said linebacker Chase Blackburn, another Giants special-teamer who has stepped into the starting lineup and was a teammate of Hixon's for three years at Akron. "He just likes Football in general."

Hixon politely paused and pretended to contemplate the question when asked if he thinks he could seamlessly move back to safety and play that position in the NFL. But his eyes told the answer before he allowed his mouth to.

"My competitive side would like to say I could," he finally said with feigned modesty.

But Hixon wasn't always that confident, certainly not last October when the Broncos waived him. A year earlier, he had been their fourth-round draft choice, but on Oct. 2, 2007, he was a shell of the player he once was.

Earlier that season, he was the Denver player who collided with Bills tight end Kevin Everett, nearly killing Everett. When he arrived in the Giants' locker room, he still was shaken from that experience and stripped of his confidence after being rejected by the Broncos.

"You hear stories about guys that were released and never played Football again," Hixon said. "You just wonder if a team is going to pick you up and what opportunities you are going to get. I was fortunate the Giants did give me another opportunity."

Now he has another one.

It is not clear what the future holds for Hixon or Burress this season.

Nor is it clear what will happen next year. Amani Toomer might not return for a 14th season with the Giants - his contract is up at the end of this season - so both Toomer and Burress could be gone.

Until then, he'll settle for his role this week: a starting receiver for the best team in Football, a target of a Super Bowl MVP quarterback and, when he has a chance, sprinting on special teams and looking for someone to hit.

Just for old times' sake.

Dangerous Domenik



Team rank: 6


Receiving yards

Team rank: 4


Punt return yards

Team rank: 1


Receiving touchdowns

Team rank: T-5


Kick return yards

Team rank: 2

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 30, 2008

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