- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- What's new for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning this offseason is... well, just about everything. Having run basically the same offensive system since he arrived in the NFL in 2004, Manning this year is learning a whole new system under new coordinator Ben McAdoo. It has changed quite a bit about his preparation.
"It has definitely felt different," Manning said Tuesday after the first day of minicamp. "There's a lot of learning. The past several years, you never had too many surprises. You could be positive how it was going to turn out or what a guy might do versus this coverage or thinking about protections and stuff -- all of that was second nature. Now, you kind of have to slowly think through it the first time you're doing some things."
All of that said, Manning believes things are going more smoothly this week than they went for the offense in OTAs. He said Tuesday was the fourth time the Giants have had an "Install One" practice day, meaning the fourth time they've practiced the offense as though the plays were new, and he sees a difference.
"It should be second nature to us now," Manning said. "Calling plays, everyone should know what they're doing, no mistakes, playing a little bit faster, getting up to the line of scrimmage quicker, getting the ball snapped without as much thinking. I think we did a pretty good job today. I thought the tempo was good. It was hot and we ran a lot of plays, but I thought we had a good tempo and felt a little more confident with everything, with the adjustments, the changing of the plays. Everything is happening a little quicker, so I think that's a positive."
Manning is working with a relatively new group of running backs. Peyton Hillis was on the team last year, but free-agent signee Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams were not. Manning said the backs have a lot to work on in terms of blitz pickup and catching the ball out of the backfield in the new offense, but that he likes their progress. As for the wide receivers, he's still without first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr., who has a hamstring injury, and Mario Manningham, who's rehabbing his knee. But in general, Manning thinks, the receivers should find things simpler in this offense than they did in the one Kevin Gilbride used to run.
"There are a lot of different plays and a lot of different things going on, but maybe not as much reading as a receiver," Manning said. "If you know what the play is, then you should be fine. It's just about getting open. You don't have to make as many decisions, probably, as a receiver, but there are still a lot of things to it. We're still fine-tuning a few things."
The Giants still have five weeks until the start of training camp and 12 weeks until the start of the regular season, so there's plenty of time to work out the kinks. Manning is a seasoned-enough veteran to enjoy progress even if it's a bit slow, and to know there's time to get everything right.