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Nyp: Fassel Kicking Around Jints' Final Roster Cuts


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August 30, 2003 -- If the Giants need a field goal to win the game next Sunday against the Rams, Carson Dach will likely be snapping the ball and Matt Bryant will be kicking it.

Are you ready for some football?

That's not the way things were supposed to work this season, as the special-teams operation was cleaned out, with Ryan Kuehl signed to handle the snaps and Mike Hollis signed to serve as the kicker. Both Kuehl and Hollis are hurting, though, and both could be sent packing or lost for the season.

Those are two of the many decisions coach Jim Fassel and his staff mulled over yesterday as the final 53-man roster took shape. Fassel will inform the players who's in and who's out today at a morning meeting at Giants Stadium. The final roster has to be submitted into the league office by 4 p.m. tomorrow.

The marquee name buzzing around as far as questionable job security is Ron Dayne. Fassel told The Post on Wednesday that Dayne will not be cut; that was before the erstwhile Heisman Trophy winner dropped a swing pass, ran poorly (5-13) and then finished off a dull showing with a fumble that got him benched late in the first quarter of the Giants 30-24 preseason victory over the Ravens Thursday night in Baltimore. It is highly unlikely that performance prompted a change in Fassel's thinking.

"He would have stayed in there if he hadn't fumbled," Fassel reasoned, "because we'd still have had the ball."

Fassel said there could be a role on the team for Dayne, who has clearly lost the backup running back job he owned the past three years. Even a rusty Dorsey Levens has looked better, and second-year Delvin Joyce, rapidly becoming a Fassel favorite, adds more energy than Dayne.

The front office, which made Dayne the 11th overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft, doesn't want to see him released and his price tag of $616,000 is affordable for a reserve. Dayne stays.

Jesse Palmer nailed down the backup quarterback spot with a shaky performance that at least showed flashes of resiliency. Jim Finn did nothing to win the fullback job, but neither did Charles Stackhouse do anything to keep it.

"When neither of 'em takes charge of the position it puts the ball in my court," Fassel said.

Finn remains the favorite to stick, even after what Fassel termed "technique mistakes" while blocking that nearly led to a pair of blocked punts and did result in two penalties on Finn.

Receiver Ron Dixon will be put on the physically unable to perform list, which puts him out of action for the first six weeks. That list is not an option for Kuehl or Hollis. Kuehl has a nerve problem in his right elbow, caused by repeated snapping.

Dach, a rookie from Eastern Michigan cut by the Bears and signed as a contingency, snapped without incident against the Ravens.

Hollis, signed and given a $500,000 bonus to replace Bryant, hurt his back trying to make a tackle last week against the Jets, is not ready to return. It's likely Kuehl will be put on injured reserve and thus lost for the season.

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