EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Replacing Plaxico Burress in the New York Giants' lineup this past weekend looked rather easy for Domenik Hixon.
Getting to that point was just a matter of hard work and getting inspiration from former Buffalo Bills player Kevin Everett.
``Kevin has been an inspiration to me,'' Hixon said Thursday. ``All the hard work he has been through. He is an inspiration to me every day.''
The lives of Hixon and Everett came together about 13 months ago when Everett made a special teams tackle on Hixon in a game between the Bills and Hixon's Denver Broncos.
It was one of the hardest hits Hixon ever took, but it also left Everett partially paralyzed from the neck down with a life-threatening spinal cord injury.
Everett has regained his ability to walk over the past year, but the incident had lingering effects on Hixon. His play declined and he was cut less than a month later by Denver and eventually signed by the Giants.
ing back on the tapes I noticed I was not going full speed like I should have been, like what I'm doing now.''
While he played well for the Giants on special teams, Hixon said that talking with family and friends in the offseason renewed the love of football he had somewhat lost after Everett was injured.
``It's a blessing to play the game, to have the opportunity again,'' Hixon said. ``I just decided to be consistent and compete every day. I might not catch every ball or run the right route, but I am going to compete and be accountable and to have goals for myself and try to reach those goals to the best of my ability.''
Always a good punt and kickoff returner, Hixon turned himself into a reliable receiver in the offseason.
He recalled spending hours catching passes with Rich Enochs, his former quarterback at Whitehall-Yearling High School in Columbus, Ohio, and running gassers with his father, Marvin, timing them.
``They say champions are made in the offseason,'' Hixon said. ``Last year they talked about how tough the offseason program was and I had to be ready for it. I worked hard everyday.''
Hixon also had Everett for motivation.
``Someone mentioned to me last year the better that Kevin was getting the better I was doing,'' Hixon said. ``I was playing every day for him and hoping everything went well for him.''
ready opened eyes with his participation in the offseason training program and the veteran minicamp.
And with Burress limited by an ankle injury in the offseason and training camp, Hixon got to work out with the first team almost every day.
``We know he is an exceptional special teams player,'' coach Tom Coughlin said. ``But as a receiver, in the spring he really had a good spring and then had a good fall camp. He had a lot of opportunities. He had an opportunity to really accelerate his communication with the quarterback and Eli was feeling good about him. So are we surprised? No, no not really.''
When Burress was suspended for last weekend's game against Seattle for missing a team meeting, Manning felt comfortable with Hixon in the lineup against the Seahawks.
Manning and Hixon connected on a 32-yard touchdown pass on the opening series and combined on a 41-yard to set up a field goal later in the quarter. Hixon finished with four receptions for 102 yards before being forced the leave the game with a concussion in the second quarter of the 44-6 win.
``He has obviously proven that he can play and deserves to be out there on the field and given some more shots to make some plays,'' Manning said.
he team with 18 catches.
``This is great,'' said Hixon, who has 10 catches with a 19.1-yard average. ``All I try to do is contribute to a win. That's all you want to do.''

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