Punters and linebackers

July, 31, 2011
7/31/11
4:19
PM ET

It would be hard to portray more confidence than Steve Weatherford did this morning at Giants camp. The former Jets punter is coming off a record-breaking season, will keep the same home field and, most notably, is having a competition with a second-year Matt Dodge best known for one of the worst moments of the Giants 2010 season.

Giants fans, prepare for your training camp punter competition.

“(I’m) coming off of a strong season where I tied an NFL record with punts inside the 20 and I had 22 inside the 10 so I knew options would be there,” Weatherford said. “I really like the coaching staff here. I feel like this is a really good fit and I can do well what they like.”

Dodge, on the other hand, was the punter who sent the ball right to DeSean Jackson last season as time expired. Jackson ran it back for a touchdown and the Eagles won 38-31.

“It’d be foolish to think someone wasn’t gonna get signed,” Dodge said. “And when you look at the people who were avail and the year he had in the exact same stadium, to be shocked would be done on my part.”

If the odds look stacked against Dodge, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said it would be a true competition.

“Best word is that, competition,” Coughlin said. “Any time you can create that, you are going to be better off for it. Sometimes the numbers don’t allow it, sometimes they do allow it. I would hope that one thing that would be in the new CBA was 90 (players) every summer. You’d be surprised what the difference between 90 and 80 is when you’re putting a roster together for summer camp.”

Weatherford said the Giants were his first choice, an added that he wanted to stay in New York. The Jets have been impressed with backup punter T.J. Conley, which could have been why Weatherford said he didn’t try to negotiate a return.

“There were some choices to make going into free agency, just having the relationship with Zak DeOssie, Lawrence Tynes and having a familiar relationship with Tom Quinn, I knew going into free agency that this was the place I wanted to play,” Weatherford said. “I enjoyed my time playing in this stadium and I enjoyed my time playing with Rex Ryan but it was time for me to move on. Just talking to my representation, this just felt like a prefect fit for me.”

Coughlin knows that the Jets gave Weatherford the latitude to fake a punt, but life the Giants will be different in that regard.

“Leeway, that’s the right word there,” Coughlin said with an unusually hearty laugh. “He won’t have that here.”



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LB Clint Sintim is back and was put in with the first team, eight weeks after knee surgery. He was called out by Giants general manager Jerry Reese in the offseason for not being more impactful sooner.

“Nobody likes to be called out, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t accidental,” Sintim said. “He know’s what he’s doing, I’m sure he knew I’d hear it but I need to prove to myself and prove that I can play this game.”

Coughlin joked about how the Giants linebackers, as a group, are overlooked.

“How can you can say that, without a sheet of paper, nobody here knows who they are, including me,” Coughlin said.

Seriously, Coughlin said MLB Jonathan Goff had improved and he wanted Sintim in that category as well.

“Hopefully Sintim will stay on the field and be the player that he was drafted him to be,” Coughlin said. “A couple of these young kids got our attention yesterday, right away.”

Sintim said he was plenty motivated before Reese issued the challenge, but he looks to get a chance to make his point on the field.


Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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