After informing the Giants recently that he was considering retirement, punter Jeff Feagles has made up his mind to officially end his 22-year career.
Feagles, the most durable punter in NFL history, is expected to announce his retirement on Friday. The 44-year-old punter played in an NFL-record 352 consecutive regular-season games. The two-time Pro Bowl selection owns records with 1,713 punts, 71,211 yards and 554 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Feagles, who had re-signed with the team last month, told head coach Tom Coughlin recently that he wasn't sure if his body would hold up for a 23rd season after training hard in the offseason. The Giants promptly drafted East Carolina punter Matt Dodge in the seventh round in last weekend's draft.
Now, after going the last seven seasons with Feagles, the Giants will have to search for a new punter.
"He is 44 years old," Coughlin said last weekend after the draft. "He worked very hard for approximately a month right after the season just to try to tell himself again that he could do this and wanted to be able to do it. And then ran into some -- as we went on and started the offseason program -- ran into some of the physical tests that you have to go through as you continue to advance almost on a weekly basis. He has a program which is unique to himself, but he is having some physical issues. And so he has decided to deal with them."
Dodge will compete with former Australian Rules football player Jy Bond to replace Feagles. Feagles, one of the best directional punters in the game, started his career with the Patriots in 1988. He also played for the Eagles, Cardinals and Seahawks before joining the Giants in 2003.
Feagles' retirement also means the Giants will have to find a new placekick holder. New backup quarterback Jim Sorgi recently began practicing holding for the Giants with Feagles' retirement in mind.
"We will try to grow two guys," general manager Jerry Reese said last weekend of Dodge and Bond. "We will try to groom these guys to get us ready for our season. We need to get going right away with these guys, that's very important to me. We need to get going right away."