Jeff Feagles hit the roof of the Giants' indoor practice facility five times with his punts Thursday. "He was practicing," Tom Coughlin said with a smile.
Coughlin was referring to the controversial video board that hovers 90 feet above the field at the new home of the Dallas Cowboys. Two preseason games have been played there, but the Giants will be the first regular-season guests Sunday. And that means Feagles could be the first punter in a game that counts to plant a football right in the center of those hi-def pixels.
Or maybe he won't. "I don't want that distinction," Feagles said. Unlike Coughlin, he wasn't smiling. "They told them to build it at 85 feet or whatever and they built it at 90," Feagles said. "The rule itself is there, and if it happens - and obviously it has [in the preseason] - you just have to deal with it."
After then-Titans punter A.J. Trapasso hit the video board during a preseason game and punters from the Titans and 49ers hit it during warm-ups, commissioner Roger Goodell clarified the rule dealing with such issues, calling for a dead ball and a re-kick, with time put back on the clock, if a punt hits the board. That's why the Giants were actually working on having their gunners and punt coverage team take their time coming back to the line of scrimmage so they can catch their breath.
Because it would be a disadvantage for the punting team to have footballs hit the board, and because Feagles angles his kicks so well, it seems unlikely that it will happen. Still, it seems to be something people are curious about.
Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli said he'll be in position. "In a regular game, we're not tracking the ball on a punt, we're actually just moving down the field to show the coverage go after the returner," he said on a conference call. "But we're going to start initially tracking the ball live because obviously people are going to be wondering about that right away.''
Even the T.G.I. Friday's restaurant chain has gotten into the frenzy, offering free appetizers if a punt hits the video board Sunday night.
Although Feagles downplayed hitting the board, he'll be able to do it if he wants to. Just as some people can't pass an awning or street sign without jumping to touch it, Feagles will have his chance to hit it, at least in warm-ups. At 90 feet, can he?
"I can tell you that if I do hit it, it will be a heck of a punt," Feagles said. "Our practice facility here is 80 feet and I'm really hitting the top of that. Another 10 feet is pretty high."