Matt Dodge would not have been drafted by the Giants if punter Jeff Feagles hadn’t approached the team before the NFL Draft this spring and told them he was ready to retire. In the seventh round the Giants opted for Dodge, an muscular punter from East Carolina, and this summer has been like a tutorial in the position.
Feagles has been at training camp in Albany to informally coach his replacement.
The Giants former punter still isn’t quite ready to be called Coach Feagles, even though he has been helping Dodge with his motion. Dodge said that he’s gotten some useful advice that has translated into his motion.
“I had a tendency to be stiff and robotic with how I used to hold,” Dodge said “I was like catch, spin — I wasn’t doing it in a fluid motion. So he said, ‘You’re a muscular guy, you’ve got to relax a little bit.’ So now I’m a lot more relaxed and it’s a lot more natural.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the situation serves the organization well.
“Feagles is the ideal guy to work on,” Coughlin said. “If you are going to come into this league as a rookie and not know anything, it’s a dream come true to work with the guy who has played more games than anybody in the history of the game at that position. It’s an ideal matchup.”
Dodge said that he wasn’t kicking as much with the Giants as he has in past seasons. The team is more judicious about using him, he estimates that he is making about a quarter of the kicks he normally does.
“These guys are very good at watching me,” Dodge said.
So far, the Giants are pleased with Dodge’s progress.
“He is very talented and very strong-legged,” Coughlin said. “Basically what it is right now is it’s a 65-yarder and a 40-yarder. Not much hang time (on the 40-yarder). His goal is to be consistent.”