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Weatherford prepping for Packers, while ex-team in turmoil

Jets punter Steve Weatherford packs his bags in

Jets punter Steve Weatherford packs his bags in the locker room the day after the team lost the AFC Championship game to the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Jan. 24, 2011) Credit: Joe Epstein

The thin white strip of paper is affixed to Steve Weatherford’s locker, the one still decorated with large red Christmas bells and bows.

Typed on that rectangular slip is one solitary sentence:

"Westhoff says Giants punter wasn’t 'good enough' to play for Jets"

"It’s a little fuel for my fire," Weatherford said with a smile.

Though Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff expressed disappointment in the punter’s late-season performance with the Jets back in 2010, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin spent a portion of his Thursday press conference raving about Weatherford's contributions in the team’s wild card win over Atlanta.

“Outstanding last week,” Coughlin said of the special teamer, who averaged 45.8 yards on four punts (including one inside the 20) against the Falcons, who had no punt return yardage. “You have a weapon such as (Eric) Weems…a very, very good return man both punt return and kick off return.

“…The three balls that he did kick out of bounds were well-placed, very good directional punts and it helped us tremendously because of the nature of the returner.”

And while internal strife plagues his former team, the punter is focused on his latest playoff run.

Although he claims he hasn’t been paying attention to the comments of anonymous Jets ripping quarterback Mark Sanchez, Weatherford said the slights he did hear about are unwarranted.

“I’m focused on playing the Packers," he said. “But at the same time, I still have a lot of dear friends on that team. I’m good friends with Mark and I think he’s unjustly being attacked within the media. But that’s what’s going to happen. It’s New York. They expect you to win a Super Bowl every year and if you don’t then you [stink].”

Playing in New York has never been easy, but Weatherford still has no regrets about switching sides.

“I think there’s a little bit of a different mentality here,” he said of the Giants. “Not that the one that Rex has there is wrong. It’s just different. Obviously Rex was very successful. His first year he went to the AFC championship with a rookie quarterback and then he did it again the next year just to show it wasn’t a fluke. Rex is great. I think Rex is a phenomenal coach.

“But it’s different here. It’s a totally different mindset. We’re less – again, not that Rex is wrong – but we’re less talk and more action and we kind of like being the underdog and flying below the radar here. …You look at our quarterback, and I think it’s kind of a trickle down effect. He doesn’t say anything and he goes out every Sunday and he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the world. So what do we need to say?”

Apparently, there’s nothing left to be said to Westhoff either.

Said Weatherford: “I hope he’s happy with the choice he made.”

New York Sports