Feagles' Retirement Forces ChangesRookie mini-camp was especially important to Giants' special teams coach Tom Quinn. He doesn't normally draw the attention of the media pool at Timex, but at this point in time, he has suddenly become a person of interest.
Punter Jeff Feagles announced his retirement last week, leaving the punting duties to the winner of a rookie standoff between 7th round draft-pick Matt Dodge and unproven Australian Jy Bond.
Feagles was also a the holder for PATs and FGs - a good one, too - and the Giants are uncertain who will fill that position. In addition, Quinn is trying out new punt and kickoff returners as well a finding a placekicker to challenge the erratic Lawrence Tynes in training camp.
Q: Do you feel like you lost your best friend today?
A: It feels like that. He was a great friend. We are so close in age and we have similar age kids, so a lot of the same issues that we have to deal with on a daily basis. We will miss talking to him and being close to him. I'm sure we'll stay close.
Q: He has been a directional punter for years. Does the new guy have to be directional or can he be what he is?
A: You have to play to his strengths, number one. So we have to get him consistent before we start trying to work him directionally. That is something we do believe in - being able to limit the dangerous returns by limiting the field they have to work with.
Q: You can't expect anybody to do it like Feagles did it...
A: Twenty-two years.
Q: Almost nobody does it like that.
A: No, very few guys in the League do that.
Q: Does the guy that you drafted, he says he has done it.
A: He has done a little bit but nothing to the extent that we ask. The hashes are in tighter in this League. And so now there is more direction to the kick than in college.
Q: So you would not try to clutter his mind - you want him to just be consistent with him punting first?
A: Yeah, it is going to be a process with the catching the snap, modeling the ball, getting a good leg swing on it. The big thing for these young guys will be to hang the distance. We don't want a 55-yard punt with 4.1 hang. That is very tough to cover. So we will get the hang, the distance consistent and then we will start working direction when it is the appropriate time.
Q: Coming from a totally different sport, is Bond anywhere to being polished enough to be a factor in the competition or is he kind of more a developmental project?
A: He can be a factor. He has a very strong leg and he has been trained by Darren Bennett out in San Diego who was the first Australian to come over. And so he will have a chance. But it will be such a new experience. We were laughing today on the sideline because he's helping the defense out as a receiver. And they are trying to set him in motion and Perry is yelling at him and he is looking like, "What do you mean?" So everything will be a process with him.
Q: He might not be the best scout team player.
A: No. Usually those guys can pick it up a little bit but he had no clue. He was creeping along (laughter).
Q: How did Matt Dodge do with holding?
A: We did it twice today. So that is something we - you really want your punter to be able to do that for the sake of your operation - to snap, to hold the kick. Because we do have a snapper now in Zac that primarily is a snapper so the work with Lawrence - it makes the kickers all that much better when it is one consistent guy. When you have to pull a guy like we did in 2007 from a position, then it was really hard because the snappers are playing defensive tackle and linebacker. We had to try and create time to get enough for the routine to be polished. So you want your punters to be able to do it. And they are both capable of doing it.
Q: How confident are you going to be in Lawrence? He struggled a little bit on kickoffs last year. Now he has a full year with the new technique. Do you see a difference in him?
A: He went - from Week 11 on - he was very consistent. If we can get that out of him, then we will be very happy. He just started the year too inconsistent for us - too many misses. So he will get that. You look at the last maybe six games that we charted - maybe seven games --- real consistent with good hang time, good location and good distance.
Q: Dodge said that he kicked off in college. Do you want to put that aside until he is settled in with his punting?
A: No, we will train him both. He is used to doing both so that won't be a new experience for him. We will obviously lean more toward the punting. But once he gets comfortable - - you want them to get their feet on the ground and kind of get settled in before we start adding so much to their plate. So right now he is focusing in on the punting and the holding. And then we will introduce the kickoffs at some point in the spring with him.
Q: Would you consider Chad Jones a punt returner?
A: He could be. He did it in college and he had a nice one for a touchdown. And so they had a lot of confidence to put him back there because they had an all-American returner that they had to take out of the game and they put him into the game when it was a +50 punt. So his heels were on the 10 and he had to make the decision. He was a sure-handed catcher.