Giants add former All-Pro return specialist to practice squad

Pittsburgh Steelers (New York Giants) special teams player Gunner Olszewski (89) catches a Baltimore Ravens punt  during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are adding depth to their special teams, signing Gunner Olszewski to their practice squad, per Tom Pelissero. Olszewski was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and joins a Giants team with thin depth at the return position.

Giants add former All-Pro return specialist

Olszewski is one of the more highly-accomplished special teams players in the NFL, having been a first-team All-Pro with the New England Patriots in 2020. Olszewski will join Big Blue’s practice squad and likely see some immediate playing time due to a combination of injuries and poor performances at the position.

Olszewski appeared in two games this season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, returning one punt for eight yards and two kickoffs for 24 yards. The 26-year-old special teams ace has career averages of 22.0 yards per kick return and 12.0 yards per punt return.

An upgrade is long overdue

Giants’ special teams player Gary Brightwell suffered a hamstring injury in the team’s recent Week 7 win over the Washington Commanders. With Brightwell injured, the special teams unit has a lack of depth. Olszewski should help aid in that category.

Furthermore, Olszewski should help New York improve in one of its most deficient categories this season. Throughout the season, special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey has deployed a rotation of skill position players to serve as the return men for his unit.

Rookie RB Eric Gray has received most of the reps as the return man for Big Blue but has already fumbled the ball three times this season. After Gray muffed a punt versus Washington, veteran WR Sterling Shepard received an opportunity to return punts, but he too coughed the ball up, making the team’s need for a reliable return specialist all the more clear and obvious.

The Giants’ lack of a true return specialist has clearly . Olszewski will not contribute much to the offensive side of the ball, but he is a true return specialist who could provide some reliability to the team’s punt coverage unit.

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