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Thumbs-down for Giants QB Eli Manning

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Eli Manning hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in three preseason games. AP Photo/Frank Victores

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A quick observation of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and how he’s played in preparation for the season opener on Sept. 13 against the Dallas Cowboys:

Nobody is worried about Manning. He's healthy, as he always is, and he's throwing the ball well in practice. But this is supposed to be a review of his preseason game performance, and to this point that hasn't been very good. Granted, he's been without wide receiver Victor Cruz, and Rueben Randle hasn't played much, either, because of his own knee injury. But Manning is 20-for-38 for 158 yards, one interception and no touchdowns in his three practice games so far, and he's likely to get some work in the preseason finale to try to get the first-team offense on track.

Manning looked his best in Saturday's game against the Jets, especially on a 14-play touchdown drive that ended with a 2-yard Rashad Jennings run. But during that drive, his success came on short passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and Shane Vereen as the Giants seem determined to compensate for their pass-protection questions by getting the ball out as quickly as possible. Manning has struggled with his downfield throws in the preseason and hasn't connected yet with Beckham for a big one despite several attempts.

If Cruz is able to return in time for the season opener, that would help. And as he heads into his 12th NFL season, Manning is established as a player who can spend his preseason working on things and then snap back into regular-season mode once the lights go on and the games count. So the "thumbs down" isn't intended as any sort of alarm bell. Manning himself would tell you he'd like to put something on film Thursday in New England about which he can feel good going into the season.