Steve Weatherford makes Giants roster

Updated: September 4, 2011, 2:22 PM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Matt Dodge's days with the New York Giants have come to an end.

Steve Weatherford has won the job as the Giants' punter. Weatherford and Dodge had been in a closely watched competition throughout training camp.

NFL teams' roster reductions to 53 players were due by 6 p.m. ET Saturday.

"That was a tough, tough decision," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It was a tough call and a difficult thing to talk to Matt. He responded in a class manner and made it very easy. ... I think in training camp, neither punter really missed a punt. Some weren't as good as others. They both did an outstanding job and it was not an easy decision to make. I think Matt will continue to grow and develop and I think he'll punt in this league -- probably punt for a very long time."

Dodge, a seventh-round draft pick last year out of East Carolina, had a rocky rookie season for the Giants as the replacement for longtime punter Jeff Feagles. Dodge has a very powerful leg, finishing ninth in the league in average yards per punt (44.8), but he struggled with directional kicking, finishing 30th in net yards per punt (34.8).

Dodge became a prime target of Giants fans' ire after his final punt of the team's final home game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants had already blown a 31-10 fourth-quarter lead, and on fourth down with 13 seconds left, coach Tom Coughlin ordered Dodge to punt the ball out of bounds away from DeSean Jackson, the Eagles' ultra-dangerous return man.

Dodge misfired, punting the ball down the middle of the field. Jackson fumbled initially, then gathered the ball and raced all the way to the end zone for a 65-yard game-winning touchdown. The Giants finished the season 10-6 -- tied with the Eagles -- but missed out on the playoffs due to a tiebreaker to Philadelphia.

Giants fans clearly haven't forgotten --Dodge was booed after taking the field for the first time during the team's first home preseason game on Aug. 22. Coughlin and his staff may have had a hard time forgetting, too, despite Dodge's positive performance in camp.

Weatherford, a six-year NFL veteran, was the starting punter for the New York Jets the past two seasons. A better directional kicker than Dodge, he was 23rd in the league in average yards per punt last season (42.6) and 16th in net yards per kick (38.1).

Kieran Darcy is a reporter for ESPNNewYork.com.

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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