Eli confident on first day of camp

July, 26, 2013
7/26/13
8:35
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The other New York football team will be holding a quarterback competition over the next several weeks, with the job very much up for grabs.

It's a very different story here at the Meadowlands, where for the ninth consecutive season the Giants have a firmly entrenched starter at QB.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Evan PinkusEli Manning and the Giants have a lot to prove this season.
This might be hard to believe, but Eli Manning is beginning his 10th season in the NFL. And the 32-year-old sounds as fired-up as ever to get started.

"Each year it’s exciting," Manning said Friday after the Giants' opening-day conditioning test. "I look forward to training camp. I look forward to getting better, and I’m coming in here energized with something to prove to myself and to my teammates: that we have got to get back to playing better football.

"I have to play at a higher level," he added, "and we’ve got to get back to being precise and everything being done the right way to ensure that we’re winning these games that we should be winning."

Last season ended in very disappointing fashion, with Big Blue blown out by the Falcons and Ravens in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, and missing the playoffs entirely a year after winning it all.

The Giants didn't make major changes to the roster, but Manning isn't disappointed.

"I think that’s a good thing -- usually [that means] you feel like you have quality players on your team," Manning said. "Obviously, we signed back our left tackle [Will Beatty], we signed back one of our main receivers [Victor Cruz] -- those are big splashes because they’re good players and you have them back on your team, where they know the offense and you know what to expect from them."

"I feel like we have talented receivers, we drafted a running back in the first round last year [David Wilson], we have Andre Brown back, we have a tight end [Brandon Myers]," the quarterback added. "We drafted an offensive lineman [Justin Pugh], which every quarterback likes. I think we attacked the areas that we needed, that we were limited in and where we had to make sure we got the guys back that could play at a high level."

Manning sounded particularly excited about the return to health of wideout Hakeem Nicks, who battled through foot and knee injuries last year and had a subpar season by his standards, with just 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns.

"From what he’s told me, he’s 100 percent, he’s ready to go, and that’s what we’re expecting and that’s what we need him to be," Manning said.

"Hakeem is a big part -- he is a playmaker, he stretches the field, he breaks tackles," he added. "He’s a guy who you’ve got to get the ball in his hands because he makes big plays happen. So, to have him full go, full speed and healthy and confident that he’s healthy will make a big difference in our passing attack."

Manning has two Super Bowl rings, and two Super Bowl MVP awards, to show for his first nine seasons in the league. But he is far from satisfied.

"Each year you’re hungry for it, and I’m hungry for my third [championship]," Manning said. "And as a team, I’m hungry for each player. Either guys are trying to get their second and some guys are trying to get their first, and I think you want everybody to have that experience, to know that you are the best team in the NFL that year."

Sounds like a grizzled NFL veteran. Guess what -- Eli Manning is one now.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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