Friday, April 30, 2010

Farewell Feags, Hello Dodge And Bond

We've got our first video of the day here, starting with Jeff Feagles' farewell speech after 22 years of never missing a game, and then some practice video of seventh-round pick Matt Dodge and Jy Bond punting. It's unfortunate that we were stationed so far away, but you'll get an idea that neither of these guys is exactly Feagles, at least not yet.

The one really important thing Feagles said as he shoved off was that every kicker in the NFL should learn how to directional punt nowadays because of the outstanding physical abilities of the returners. It's interesting that Bond, and not the draft pick Dodge, would seem to have the edge there due to his experience playing Australian Rules Football.

"Coming from an Aussie Rules background, we've got to kick it all over; left, right, left foot, right foot," Bond said. "Around the corners, whatever. Directional is something I'd be comfortable at.

"It's all directional kicking. You've got to hit a target, so it's not necessarily standing and punting. We've got to hit guys running around, left and right, so it's often changing direction."

Dodge started out his punting career wanting to boom every kick, but said he changed that thinking around junior year at East Carolina.

"We did some directional stuff moreso my junior year," Dodge said. "We got a new special teams coordinator my senior year. But we did a little my junior year. I think I did fine, for sure. It was kind of how the wind was blowing. I guess it's the same philosophy here."

If Dodge is going to make any inroads with Tom Coughlin and special teams coordinator Tom Quinn, he'd better get used to tucking the ball away in the deep corners like Feagles did on a regular basis. It won't be easy, considering even Feagles said it took him six to seven years at the beginning of his career to master the directional arts.

It may be a particular challenge to Dodge, who started his career wanting to show little else besides leg strength.

"As a young punter, all I wanted to do was hit a spiral and bomb it," Dodge said. "One time I'd hit a 65-yard punt, and then I'd hit a 30-yard punt. But then I met up with a guy who was trying to get into the league a couple of years back and he told me, 'Look, if you can hit the same punt every time, 45, 50 yards, with good hang time, that's 10 times as valuable as a guy who doesn't know if he's going to overkick your coverage or hit the coverage in the back. I've kind of changed my whole philosophy."

While Dodge has changed, Bond has tried to refine himself through the tutelage of Eagles punt Sav Rocca here and in San Diego with former Chargers punter Darren Bennett, both veterans of Australian Rules Football. But it was Rocca who gave him the best piece of advice on dealing with the wind currents of the Meadowlands.

"He told me, 'Get used to it, this is the cold part of the country,'" Bond said.

Either way, neither of them will have to fight through Feagles, whose 43-year-old body would simply not allow him to train as hard as necessary to improve his leg strength over last year's disappointing performance.

"My mind tells me I want to come back this year," said Feagles, who said it hit him the Monday before the draft, having awaken feeling lousy in the back and knees, that the end had come. "But I started working out and my body is just not recovering the way it's supposed to.

"I've always been very, very hard in my training, and I just can't do it anymore. My body is just not letting me respond to it. It's time to move on."

He holds no ambitions of taking time off and giving it another try.

"I've taken my last swing," Feagles said. "I'm not going to be the guy to go back and tell people, yeah, I'm going to be training. I've tried to train this season. If I was going to train, I would play. But I don't want to be the guy to come back and pull a Brett Favre on you."


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