Dodge heard rumors about Jeff Feagles contemplating retirement, but the most prolific punter in NFL history had never missed a game during his 22-year career. So Dodge didn't expect the 44-year-old Feagles to retire.
"When they drafted me, he still hadn't retired," Dodge said. "So I was like, ‘OK, I'm going to go in there and do as good as I can and see what happens.' But I had no idea. I just thought I'd follow him around and see how he does it."
Feagles is open to tutoring Dodge, as long as Dodge doesn't mind driving up Route 17, from the Timex Performance Center to Feagles' home in Ridgewood. Otherwise, Dodge is on his own in his battle with strong-legged Australian Jy Bond to replace Feagles.
Regardless, he'll try to avoid comparing himself to Feagles, who holds the NFL records for most punts, most punt yardage and most punts inside the 20.
"I'm not here trying to fill anyone's shoes," said Dodge, who also will try kicking off and holding on extra points and field goals. "I'm just trying to do the best I can. I know he's been punting longer than I've been alive, so for me to come out here and say I'm going to do as well as him, that's probably ridiculous. He's a great player, a legend."
Feagles is especially legendary for his directional punting; a skill Dodge didn't develop much during his three seasons as one of the top college punters in the nation for East Carolina University. The 6-1, 224-pound Dodge, a bodybuilding buff who often seeks contact with opponents on the return team, usually kicked down the center of the field for East Carolina and relied on a quality coverage unit.
"When you're aiming down the middle of the field, you've got 50 yards to aim at," said Dodge, who averaged 43.5 yards per punt in his three seasons at ECU. "But where he's aiming it, and he's landing it right by the numbers every single time, it's like comparing a drive to shooting for the green.
"You could hit a great punt, but if you hit it more toward the middle your coverage isn't going to be there. You've got to have great touch on that, for sure. It just takes repetition, and just getting comfortable with it."
Dodge Not Trying to Replace Feagles
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