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Weatherford Giving Punt Team Confidence


As many times as DeSean Jackson has made opponents hold their breath, Steve Weatherford believes his band can equally knock it right out of them.

And they're well on their way, says the punter.

"We're a scary punt team," Weatherford said. "I think we're as scary a punt team as DeSean Jackson is a returner. So it'll be a great contest."

While no one needs to be reminded of Jackson's last visit to the Meadowlands, Weatherford's confidence is maybe just what the coverage team needed this season, especially given the large amount of rookies.

That's why Weatherford knew it would take time for the cover team to develop, and even admitted so in recalling the first five games when they were giving up 12.2 yards per return.

"It was a frustrating group in the preseason, at the beginning of the season," Weatherford said. "But I knew as soon as those guys figured out exactly what they were doing, that we were going to be a really tough punt team."

Since then, the Giants have given up 3.35 yards per return in the last four games, pinning the opposition eight times inside its own 20 (five were against New England alone). And that was against every quality returner short of Devin Hester.

Now "over the hump," the punt team has benefitted greatly from the emergence of Tyler Sash, whom Weatherford labeled as a "general" and "captain" of the group.

"I'm just a guy trying to come in here and prove his worth on special teams," Sash said. "That's my role this year, right now. I'm one play away from going in on defense, so obviously you've got to be ready for that. But at the same time, I'm just taking pride in my work. And my work is to play special teams to the best of my ability."

Making the Pro Bowl ballot as a special teamer,Sash has been playing the position without really any experience at all. Rather, he was used to starting in college (he made 37 of them in three seasons at Iowa) and didn't have a large role on special teams. But his penchant for hitting has carried him through.

"It's basically a free-for-all for six to eight seconds," Sash said. "It's fun. I enjoy it a lot. You can go out and hit people and run around. You get to hit people and not get in trouble by the law for six to eight seconds. So it's a good time."

Sash and the Big Blue faithful wouldn't mind him getting a lick in this weekend.

Sash, before a practice leading up to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., was watching last season's Eagles' comeback unfold live on TV, having the same reaction as everyone else when Jackson ran it back.

Sunday will be Sash's second go at Jackson.

"DeSean Jackson, he likes to get you going sideways and then make a cut straight up the field," Sash said. "So it's about just knowing each and every week what kind your returner is or what kind of schemes they run, but a lot of it comes down to instinct, reacting. Football is a game of reaction."Join other diehard Giants Fans!

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