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Published: Wednesday, 9/1/2004

France named Giants' kicker

ASSOCIATED PRESS
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The New York Giants apparently are going to open the season with Todd France as their kicker.

France kicked at Springfield High School and the University of Toledo.

The 24-year-old got the job for the season opener against Philadelphia on Sept. 12, when coach Tom Coughlin waived veteran Bill Gramatica yesterday.

There is still a chance that the Giants might sign a veteran kicker after teams make their final cuts on Sunday, but Coughlin didn't seem to think that was necessary.

"From the time he has been in here, he has been pretty consistent with his kickoffs right off the bat, and he has made improvement in other areas," Coughlin said. "Let's face it, it's staying power. He has been able to grind it through the whole thing. Other guys were up and down and all over the place."

France, 24, came to training camp an apparent third on the depth chart behind two-time incumbent Matt Bryant and Gramatica.

Bryant was waived on the opening day of camp after reporting with a hamstring injury. Gramatica was the No. 1 kicker for the opening preseason game, but he developed back spasms and that opened the door for France.

France hit all three of his field goal attempts in the last two games - 51, 42 and 24 yards - and all three extra points. His kickoffs have averaged almost 62 yards.

"I think a lot of it is just the mental part, going out there with confidence, knowing that if I do well, then I'll be here the next game," France said. "I just tried to put a string of four or five days together where I was just hitting the ball well and building my confidence."



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