While he continues publicly to put little stock into reports that a "tired arm" is the reason for his recent struggles, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning did admit that he felt better throwing the ball Monday in the team's first practice after its bye week. Ohm was there:
"It felt like the ball was coming out where I wanted it to," said Manning, who threw Monday for the first time since last Monday. "I think it definitely had a little bit more pop to it. You take a week off, and it will definitely give it a little bit more fire, so it was good."
Coach Tom Coughlin said his quarterback looked "sharp" during a light practice. Manning is looking to rebound from his worst three-game stretch since the second, third and fourth starts of his rookie season. He has not thrown a touchdown pass in his past three games and had two costly interceptions that led to two Bengals touchdowns in a 31-13 loss at Cincinnati on Nov. 11 -- the last game the Giants played.
Yes, Manning's last touchdown pass was that Week 7 game-winner to Victor Cruz against the Redskins. The Giants won the following week in Dallas on a bunch of field goals and Cowboys turnovers, and have not won since. Their division lead is down to a single game over the Cowboys, who play the Redskins on Thursday, three days before the Giants' very tough Week 12 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
In other words, it's time for the Giants to get serious. And if Manning's not injured (or tired-armed), then it's time for him to play the way the Giants need him to play. With Hakeem Nicks getting back toward full strength, he has another top wide receiver option to go with Cruz. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw practiced Monday, raising hope that perhaps the bye week helped his foot and neck problems and the Giants' running game might be able to get going.
The Giants could play well Sunday night and still lose to a Packers team that comes in on a five-game winning streak. And if Dallas wins Thursday and the Giants lose Sunday, they fall into a tie for first place. But even if that happened, it would be encouraging for Giants fans to simply see Manning and the rest of the team play a good offensive game for the first time in more than a month.