That Matt Dodge even made it a contest was a testament to how much he had improved.
The Giants brought in veteran punter Steve Weatherford to compete against Dodge in training camp, and most figured it was just a formality. Weatherford was an established pro and Dodge, well, his most infamous moment is so much a part of the 2010 season narrative that it was included in the opening video clip of Madden ’12.
But the two went kick-for-kick throughout the summer before yesterday, when the Giants waived Dodge and made Weatherford their punter.
“That was a tough, tough decision,” said Tom Coughlin, who despite his red-faced tirade against Dodge after he punted the ball to DeSean Jackson last December seemed to have a real affinity for the young player. “It was a tough call and a difficult thing to talk to Matt. He responded in a class manner and made it very easy. He came in with a smile on his face.”
The Giants drafted Dodge in the seventh round last year shortly after learning that Jeff Feagles would retire. He has a very strong leg, but had difficulty controlling the ball.
The Giants know what to expect from Weatherford. But they sent Dodge off with bouquets of compliments. Even Weatherford, in an interview on WFAN yesterday, said he thinks Dodge will be a Pro Bowl punter very soon.
They couldn't say enough nice things about Dodge. Of course, they also said "You're fired," but it was grudgingly.
“I saw his growth and maturity and focus,” said Coughlin, pointing to the second preseason game when Dodge was booed robustly but launched a 63-yarder. “I think that was one example of the way the guy had grown up … I think Matt will continue to grow and develop and I think he’ll punt in this league, probably punt for a very long time.”