Bryant to kick Thursday

<STRONG>Matt Bryant</STRONG> stuck it out, and as a result, he's going to be New York's kicker on Thursday night when the Giants open the season by hosting the 49ers. Bryant will handle kickoffs and place-kicks. <STRONG>Owen Pochman</STRONG>, the leading candidate for the PK spot all summer, was placed on Injured Reserve with a troublesome knee.

"It was that we don't see him getting better," Jim Fassel said. "He's not going to get better. But it could get worse. And that was affecting his kicking. I had to make a decision today on what to do. It went more according to plan. And Matt Bryant was here kicking on the practice squad. I decided that he had kicked well enough and I knew that with Owen we were just playing with a loaded gun."

Bryant was injured this spring before participating in NFL Europe and was long looked at as just another leg in camp. He was released on Friday but re-signed yesterday to the club's five-man practice squad. Fassel was impressed with Bryant's leg…and attitude.

"I told him, after I saw him the first two weeks of camp, 'I wonder why we brought you in here?' " Fassel remarked. "I probably would have buried the kid. I didn't talk to the kid. I hardly talked to the kid. Then I said, 'you showed me a lot.'

"Everyday I was noticing he was getting better. All of the sudden I noticed him doing better in practice. Sometime I put pressure on a guy just to see how he reacts to it. I thought he did a good job and he got better and better. His last week or so, he's really done well. Today, he was phenomenal. He hit a 52-yarder and 48-yarder, right down the middle. He put [his kickoffs] down on the goal line. Like [Darnell] Dinkins, he doesn't pout, and go in a different direction and say I am not getting a chance; he kept doing his job."

Bryant isn't exactly out of the woods yet. The Giants can still wait until after the season starts and bring in a veteran kicker and not be responsible for paying him for the entire season. However, Fassel said that's not what New York plans to do at this point.

"I don't have a guy sitting there and I'll bring him in next week," Fassel said. "I told Matt Bryant that it is his job. All he has to do is go out and do his job."

* RB Tiki Barber is officially listed as questionable for Thursday night's game with a hamstring pull. Expect Barber, who sat out of Tuesday's practice, to play. 


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