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Graham Gano excited for fresh start with the Giants, says leg feels “100 percent”

The newly-signed placekicker is looking forward to making his mark in New York

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For New York Giants fans, newly-signed placekicker Graham Gano initially brings back some negative memories. When he was with the Carolina Panthers in 2018, Gano kicked a 63-yard game-winning field goal to defeat the Giants.

“I had a feeling that would be the first question,” Gano said. “I’m definitely excited to be here now and hopefully too many people don’t bring that up.”

Following the release of Aldrick Rosas, there have been whispers that the Giants were considering Gano, but his signing only became official on Wednesday. Gano was not initially available to the Giants when they cut Rosas. The Giants original plan involved signing Chandler Catanzaro, but New York has since decided to move on to Gano.

“Obviously T-Mac (special teams coach Thomas McGaughey) and Dave (Gettleman) have experience with him from back in Carolina,” said head coach Joe Judge. “That goes a long way. He’s a big-legged guy who’s got experience.”

At 33 years old, Gano is a 10-year veteran in the league. He missed all of last season due to injuries to his left leg, but assured that he is feeling “100 percent” now.

“I feel like my leg is better than it’s ever been,” Gano said. “I feel strong. I’m just going to keep getting better and better. As far as missing time and all that, that’s part of the game. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control and you can really only control what you can. Sometimes life is going to throw things at you that are going to be tough, but it’s how you respond to it that matters.”

Judge and the Giants staff also feels confident in Gano’s health. Judge added that he believes Gano’s experience will only make him more valuable for the Giants.

“I think with any specialist — kicker, punter, snapper — you really see their best ball as they get toward their 30s,” Judge said. “They’ve had their time to develop, to understand the league, to really understand how their body works.

“Young guys may have a little bit more pop in their leg at times, young guys. ay have a little bit more raw ability, but when it comes to the NFL specialists they really start peaking around those 30s ages.”

Gano’s years spent playing for both the Washington Football Team and the Panthers have prepared him to face the challenges on kicking in MetLife Stadium head on.

“I have a lot of experience kicking in the stadium and over the course of your career, you learn how to manipulate wind in different ways,” Gano said.”

Gano has a relationship with former Giants placekicker Lawrence Tynes that he also feels has better prepared him to kick for New York.

“Obviously, he’s done some amazing things here and I’m excited to follow in his footsteps and be able to make memories here myself,” Gano said.

Mostly though, Gano is excited about starting fresh with the Giants organization.

“I’ve been kicking for a while, so I was excited for the next opportunity,” Gano said. “I feel like this is a great place to be surrounded by great people. I’ve only been here a few days but getting to meet the guys and the teammates has been a really good experience for me.”

Of course, one of his teammates, Riley Dixon already has dibs on the No. 9 - the number Gano has worn throughout his career.

“I think [Riley] is going to stick with nine which is fine,” Gano said. “I’m just happy to be here. The number doesn’t make the player, the player makes the number so whatever number they put me in doesn’t matter to me.”

Regardless of what number he ends up wearing, Gano is excited about his future with the Giants.

“I ate breakfast this morning looking at this stadium and imagined kicking in it for the Giants and I can’t wait,” Gano said.