EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., OCT. 11 -- It would be difficult to walk into the locker room of any professional sports team and find two men different in more ways than David Meggett and Sean Landeta.
The 5-foot-7, 180-pound Meggett, 24, is intense and reserved and often reluctant to reveal his thoughts and feelings to reporters. On the football field, he excels with intelligence, a surprisingly strong upper body and speed that could probably defeat Rickey Henderson in a 50-yard dash.
Landeta is 28, 6 feet and 200 pounds. He is laid back and candid and has yet to sit for an interview he deemed unpleasant. Landeta looks more like a mid-level account executive than a professional athlete. And when it comes to footspeed, he probably couldn't outrun Florence Henderson.
But the two men share common ground that is surprisingly large.
Both played collegiate football at Towson State. Each has represented the New York Giants in one Pro Bowl. And most important to the Giants, each is a productive weapon when an offensive possession ends in a punt.
Landeta and Meggett will be at RFK Stadium on Sunday, when the Giants and Washington Redskins meet for the first time this season.
"It's one of the best places in the league to kick," said Landeta, whose net punting average of 38.2 is the league's best. His gross average of 43.9 tops the NFC. "It's a nice grass field, the weather always cooperates and I've had some pretty good games there."
In the Giants' 27-24 opening-night victory at RFK last year, Landeta averaged 51 yards on four punts.
But his methodical and prolific evening was overshadowed by Meggett's flashy NFL debut on that warm night.
With the Giants leading by 7-0 early in the second period, Meggett caught a screen pass from Phil Simms at the New York 45. About six seconds later, Meggett was standing in the end zone with his first touchdown. That play demonstrated for the first time what a threat Meggett would be.
Before the season was over, Meggett would catch three more touchdown passes. He took in what seemed to be harmless tosses and turned them into scores of 53 yards in San Francisco and 57 yards in Denver. Playing almost exclusively out of the shotgun formation on third down, Meggett rushed 28 times for 117 yards and caught 34 passes for 531 yards, a 15.6 average.
Most important, Meggett became the punt and kickoff return threat the Giants had long lacked. He was third in the league with a 12.7-yard punt return average and when he brought one back for a touchdown in the season's final game, he became the first Giant to do so since 1977. When he repeated the feat on opening night this year against the Philadelphia Eagles, he tied a record set by Emlen Tunnell in 1951.
Meggett's 21.4-yard kickoff return average placed him fifth in the NFC in 1989. When the season ended, Meggett was selected to play in the Pro Bowl as the NFC's special teams player. "I don't think much about last year, because it doesn't help me now," Meggett said. "I want to keep improving as a player, but I can't do that if I dwell on what happened last year."
The improvement has not come easily, because Meggett is getting fewer opportunities to handle the ball. Tight end Mark Bavaro is back after missing most of last season with a knee injury. And the Giants' top draft pick this year was Rodney Hampton, an explosive running back out of Georgia. With Bavaro, Hampton -- who is questionable for Sunday's game because of a sprained ankle -- and an improved corps of wide receivers, Simms is less desperate to find Meggett.
"It's tough sometimes," said Meggett, who has just seven receptions and one rushing attempt in four games. In contrast, Hampton has 21 rushing attempts and a team-high 14 catches. "I get frustrated sometimes. Everybody wants to go in and play all the time. I want to go in and produce. I'd love to do more.
"But it's still early. We've only played one-quarter of the season. I feel pretty good about getting more chances." He'd like to get a few on Sunday, when he returns to the scene of his first professional magic act. Both he and Landeta are looking forward to returning to the Washington area.
There is, however, one problem.
"It's a tough game to get a ticket for," Landeta said. "I spend about $1,000 on tickets for games down there. I usually have a lot of friends who come see me play."
"I like going there, because it's an area I know and feel comfortable in," Meggett said. "I just wish I could get more tickets."
That's something else he shares with Landeta.