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Dodge, Weatherford ready to duel

Matt Dodge during the Giants' game against the

Matt Dodge during the Giants' game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. (Dec. 19, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

There’s a lot going on here at Giants camp today, as we outlined earlier, with Osi in and out of the building (apparently speaking with Jerry Reese but not the media, even though we were lead to believe it would be the other way around). But I wanted to update you on an interesting battle at camp this summer for the starting punter job. The two combatants will be Steve Weatherford and Matt Dodge.

Both made some bone-headed plays last year, Weatherford audibling to a a poorly-timed fake punt and Dodge launching a screamer down the middle of the field to DeSean Jackson that helped cost the Giants a win and probably their season.

Dodge said he was excited to have Weatherford in camp with him.

“It’d be foolish to think someone wasn’t going to be signed,” he said. “When you look at the people who were available and the year he had in the exact same stadium, I think to be shocked would be dumb on my part.”

Dodge looked good at yesterday’s first practice, but he’s always had that ability. It’s the games where things start to lose their way. But he said he’s a lot more aware of everything that is expected of him this season.

“My comfort level’s got to be 10 times more than it was last year,” he said. “I know I could hardly even say my name the first day I was here. Now it’s really just punting the ball and when you think about it like that it takes a lot of the pressure off.”

Dodge did punt well in the final two games of the season following the Meadowlands Meltdown. He was asked if that gives him confidence going into this year.

“I got confidence from still being on the team after something like that,” he said. “My coaches and the way the team rallied around me, I got more confidence from that than anything I could have done.”

Dodge looked back on his rookie season.

“I’d like to say I had some good games and obviously I got a lot of flack for some punts,” he said. “Believe me, I wasn’t going home saying ‘Well, I thought that was a good punt.’ I’m just as tough of a critic on myself. But overall I think I carried myself well and learned a lot. I couldn’t have asked for a better rookie year as far as learning experiences and character building, stuff like that. Everything that was thrown at me, everything I went through, it only makes you a better man.”

And in comes Weatherford, fresh off the Jets roster. He said that leaving the team after his contract was up was his idea (although how mutual it was is certainly open to debate).

“It wasn’t something that I wanted to do so we didn’t reach out to them,” Weatherford said. “It is nothing against them. I enjoyed my time there but for me, I felt like it was just time to move on. I enjoyed the two years that I played there. I have nothing but the best things to say about Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson and as a franchise. They are great but I want to win a championship here.

“I feel like this is a really good fit and I can do well what they like. I know that Jeff Feagles is a Hall of Famer here and I tried to model myself after him in the younger years of his NFL career. I think I have watched enough film of Jeff to make any of you guys puke, but I am definitely prepared for the challenge.”


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