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Jets' Weatherford recovered, ready to punt

New York Jets' punter Steve Weatherford runs for

New York Jets' punter Steve Weatherford runs for a first down on a fake punt in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins. (Oct. 12, 2009) Credit: MCT Photo

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Steve Weatherford plans on punting Sunday in San Diego after going through yesterday's practice without any lingering issues from his rapid heartbeat and dizziness before the wild-card game in Cincinnati on Saturday.

Weatherford, who had a surgical procedure during his sophomore year at Illinois, said he may need another procedure to correct the congenital problem in the offseason. But he said the first such issue as a pro punter with his heart before the wild-card win over the Bengals was a complete surprise, even to those closest to him.

"[My wife] had no idea what was going on. She thought it was my hamstring," said Weatherford, whose wife, Laura, was watching the game on television from their home in Illinois. "It was the last thing in her mind that it was my heart. Once I got my heart rate down to a safe level, I called her and told her I was fine."

Weatherford, 27, said team doctors made every attempt to control his irregular heartbeat, from hooking him up to an IV to beta blockers. He pulled out the IV at halftime once his heart rate was normal, but the medical staff kept Weatherford off the field. "He actually ripped out the IVs and ran out on the field and told me he was going to kick. It was like, 'Oh, no, you're not,' " Rex Ryan said. "Steve really felt bad. He's thinking he let his teammates down. Any time there's a medical situation, a possible situation like that, nobody is going to be allowed to play."

Jay Feely made sure Weatherford wasn't missed as much as he could have been. "I owe him a steak dinner for getting us through that game," Weatherford said, adding that Feely "knows what [good punts] are supposed to look like. But knowing what they look like and doing it is a different thing. I could tell you what a good jump shot is supposed to look like, but I can't do it as well as Michael Jordan."

Weatherford said speculation that the excitement of a playoff game caused his rapid heartbeat isn't really accurate - he punted for the Saints in 2006, when they reached the NFC Championship Game.

"I don't really try to get too excited for a game," he said. "In my position, it's more beneficial to me to be relaxed. Just when you get out there, it's that way for anybody, but especially for a kicker or a punter. You don't want to be jacked up out there."

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