NFC East: New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin borrowed a phrase from the New York Mets on Monday -- the Mets, or maybe The Monkees.

"I believe! I’m a believer!" the New York Giants' coach said, at the very end of a 19-minute news conference at the team's practice facility. "Put me up at the top, OK? Blame me for the problems, put me at the top, as far as getting this thing done. And I think they can go do it."

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Kathy WillensEli Manning played much better on Sunday than in Week 1, but the Giants still lost.
Coughlin was responding to a question about the heavy criticism his team is facing after opening the season 0-2 for the second year in a row. Many fans left MetLife Stadium early Sunday afternoon, even when the Giants were still within one score of the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter. But the coach thinks the fan base has reason to remain on the bandwagon.

"I would like in an ideal world that they would stay and remain as positive and as upbeat as they possibly can, because of the way they affect the young men that are on the field," Coughlin said. "They are fans, they bleed, they live and die the circumstances. It wasn't good yesterday -- it was better, but it wasn't the end result that everyone was looking for."

The Giants as a whole sounded surprisingly upbeat Monday, despite losing their home opener by 11 points to a team starting a backup quarterback who hadn't thrown a pass in a regular-season game since 2010.

They also lost cornerback Walter Thurmond for the season and may have lost middle linebacker Jon Beason for a long time as well.

To be fair, though, the Giants did look much better offensively than they did in Week 1 -- particularly in the passing game. Eli Manning completed 26 of 39 for 277 yards, and several of those incompletions were drops by his receivers. Manning's QBR on the day, 77.7, was higher than in any game last season -- his highest since the Giants' 2012 regular-season finale, a 42-7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I thought we did some good things," Manning said. "We just made too many mistakes that were big mistakes, and left a few opportunities out there on the field that we needed to make."

Victor Cruz, who voiced a desire for more balls thrown his way last week, had multiple dropped passes and heard some boos from the fans. But Coughlin stuck up for Cruz, and what he said, Monday.

"For me, it wasn’t offensive, because of the way it read," Coughlin said. "When Victor made the statement, 'I’d like to be a captain, I’d like to be considered a captain of this team,' that’s a good thing. A guy wants the football, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if he understands that obviously there’s other people, there’s progressions, there’s reasons that you do and don’t get the football."

Larry Donnell (seven catches, 81 yards) looked good for the second week in a row, and Rueben Randle made a beautiful one-handed touchdown grab. The Giants accumulated 341 yards -- 144 more than they did against the Lions.

But thanks in part to four turnovers -- three on offense, one on special teams -- the final result was 14 points, for the second week in a row.

"You're not going to beat anybody in the National Football League with 14 points," Coughlin said. "We've got to score. We had some better numbers offensively, we had better contributions. The quarterback played better without a doubt. But we still didn't have the ball in the end zone, and we certainly were there any number of times."

Next up? The 2-0 Houston Texans, who have given up just 20 points in two games, the lowest average in the league.

Tom Coughlin believes the Giants are up to the task. The question is, does anybody else?
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants lost another game Sunday, and lost two key defensive players as well.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason and cornerback Walter Thurmond suffered injuries in the Giants’ 25-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and their availability for next week and beyond is uncertain.

Beason
Beason and Thurmond both exited the game in the second half and did not return. Beason suffered a toe injury, and will undergo an X-ray and MRI. Coach Tom Coughlin said he thinks it is the same toe Beason injured in the spring, which caused him to miss the entire preseason.

Thurmond suffered a pectoral injury and said he will have tests done Monday as well.

“It’s kind of sore right now,” Thurmond said. “Hopefully it’s not too bad, where I can come back very quickly from this. I’ll know more in the next couple days.”

Beason was credited with turning the Giants’ defense around last season after coming over via trade from the Carolina Panthers in October, and he was named a defensive captain prior to the start of this regular season.

His injury left the Giants very thin at linebacker, since rookie Devon Kennard was inactive due to a hamstring injury. Mark Herzlich, primarily a special teams player, had to enter in Beason’s place.

Thurmond is the Giants’ third cornerback but plays a lot, with teams using three and four wide-receiver sets so frequently. Trumaine McBride stepped in for Thurmond -- McBride did play very well last season for the Giants after replacing the injured and ineffective Corey Webster.
NEW YORK -- Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul should be on the field when the New York Giants hold their first practice of the week on Wednesday.

Pierre-Paul exited Monday night's loss to the Detroit Lions with an injury to the neck/shoulder area but did return to the game, finishing with four tackles.

Pierre-Paul
"I'm sure we'll monitor it, but he really felt good after the game, and this morning as well," coach Tom Coughlin said Tuesday, on a conference call with reporters. "We'll list him as limited, but I think the fact that he came back and played and played with good energy, finished the game, didn't seem to have any issues, I think that's a good sign."

Coughlin did not have an update yet on punter Steve Weatherford, who suffered an ankle injury against the Lions. Weatherford was scheduled to have an MRI on Monday. Stay tuned.

Man in the middle: Jon Beason played 44 of a possible 68 snaps against the Lions, despite missing the entire preseason recovering from a foot injury.

Beason
Beason admitted feeling pretty sore on Tuesday.

"It is a big transition," the middle linebacker said. "Plus, for me, it came down to the last test, which was running around on turf. It is extremely rigid and not really forgiving, whereas grass is, but it is still the time of year where we try to take care of our joints and our bodies by practicing on grass right now.

"Getting out there and moving around full-speed on turf was definitely an adjustment and you could feel the impact of the turf versus the grass. I was able to come out, and being sore today was something the training staff anticipated. We are going to work to get it calmed down so I’m ready to go tomorrow."

As for the Giants' defense, which gave up 35 points and 341 passing yards on Monday, Beason saw "a lack of collective execution" when watching the game on film.

"You play 60 snaps or whatever it was yesterday and if every guy who plays has one or two mental [mistakes], you can't win a game that way, unfortunately," he said. "That is a problem, but it is a problem that we can control. If there is one positive, that's it. We just need to do our job and trust that the man next to us is going to do their job and try to be consistent at it."

The bright side? There was little for Giants fans to be excited about in the loss to the Lions, but Coughlin did find a couple positives after reviewing the game tape.

"I thought that for the most part we did a good job against the run defensively," Coughlin said. The Lions rushed the ball 30 times for 76 yards, with Reggie Bush & Co. averaging just 2.5 yards per carry.

"I thought our punt return game showed a little bit of life, which I was pleased to see," Coughlin said. Preston Parker had two returns for 30 yards.

"We had four penalties, which was definitely an improvement," Coughlin said. The Giants committed 44 penalties in five preseason games, an average of nearly nine per game.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jon Beason said all along that his goal was to be able to play by Week 1, and it looks like he will do just that.

After being activated off the PUP list, the New York Giants middle linebacker practiced for the second day in a row Friday, and pronounced himself fit to go against the Lions on Monday night.

Beason
"I feel good," Beason said. "It’s good to get out there and get my feet wet. Everything is geared toward Monday."

Beason said the coaching staff hasn't informed him of any limits they might place on him against the Lions. "That’s a good thing that they haven’t," he said. "If it was up to me I’d play every down. I’d play offense too, if I could."

The Giants might still ease Beason in, in terms of snaps. After all, he missed the entire preseason because of his foot injury, and only practiced on a "limited" basis the past two days.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he wasn't sure who will start at middle linebacker Monday, Beason or Jameel McClain, but he's certainly happy to have Beason back.

"Mentally he is very, very sharp, that’s not a problem," Fewell said. "Just him seeing the plays over and over and over, at the speed that he plays at, at the tempo that he plays at -- we gotta get him calmed down a little bit from that standpoint, so that he can see the play and digest the play and make sure that he’s executing what we need to have him execute."

JPP predicts division title ... sort of: Jason Pierre-Paul hasn't made any bold proclamations here in East Rutherford this summer, but he did make some waves on the radio Friday.

Appearing as a guest on "The Stephen A. Smith Show" on SiriusXM, Pierre-Paul interrupted the host during a question about the NFC East and shouted, "We're gonna win it!"

Pierre-Paul chuckled immediately afterward, though, and was more cautious with his follow-up comment. "I've been here for five years, and each year the divsion's been up for grabs," the defensive end said. "This year we're gonna try to snatch it and run with it."

Parker's up: Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said Friday that Preston Parker, one of the surprises on the final 53-man roster, will likely handle punt-return duties Monday night.

"He did a good job during the preseason, so it is his job right now," Quinn said. "We will run with him."

Parker had 10 punt returns for 75 yards in the preseason. He did muff one in the final game against the New England Patriots, but still got the job -- at least until Odell Beckham is healthy.

"He has a quick first step to get the return started," Quinn said of Parker, "and he has experience back there as well."

O-line update: Brandon Mosley (back) practiced on a limited basis for the second day in a row, but coach Tom Coughlin was non-committal about whether Mosley or John Jerry would start at right guard against the Lions.

"We’ll see," Coughlin said. "It will be day-to-day, but we’ll see."

Injury report: Beckham (hamstring), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (ankle) and offensive lineman James Brewer (back) officially did not practice.

Beason, Mosley and offensive lineman Charles Brown (shoulder) were limited.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The member of the New York Giants under the most scrutiny Monday night will not even be wearing a uniform.

Yes, we're all anxious to see Eli Manning complete a bunch of passes (and not throw any interceptions), to see if the offensive line can hold up and if the tight ends can provide anything at all.

But the man guiding Manning, the O-line and everyone else will be 37-year-old Ben McAdoo, a new offensive coordinator calling plays for the first time.

[+] EnlargeBen McAdoo
AP Photo/Seth WenigNew York Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo knows his job comes with heavy scrutiny.
The spotlight has been on McAdoo since the Giants hired him in January to fix a unit that fell on its face in 2013. But it has quickly intensified in the past month as the revamped offense struggled to get anything going in five preseason games, at least when the starters were on the field.

McAdoo was made available to reporters at the Giants' practice facility on Friday, and he alternated between sidestepping questions about his unit's poor performance and expressing confidence in the players and himself.

"I feel that we’ve made progress," McAdoo said early in the five-minute session. "We’re making progress, we’re starting to click in practice, we’re getting some chemistry going, and we just need to carry it over to game day."

But when asked why the team wasn't been able to carry it over to game day in the preseason, McAdoo said, "Preseason’s over. We had two quality days of work here this week, and we need to carry that over to Monday night."

Some fans are holding out hope the Giants were just being coy in the preseason, not wanting to unveil most of their new playbook until the games really count.

Well, they might be right, or they might be wrong -- no answers were forthcoming Friday.

When asked if the offense will look very different against the Lions, McAdoo's response was, "We’re gonna prepare to go out and play well and win the game."

OK, then.

What we did learn the past two days is that McAdoo's boss, among others, has confidence in him -- either that, or he's lying through his teeth.

"Ben McAdoo is a solid, solid football coach that knows what he is talking about," head coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday. "[He] has an excellent system, applies himself every day, very smart, we are doing OK there."

Some key offensive players spoke highly of McAdoo on Friday, too.

"I think so far, at least in the preseason, he's done a really good job of calling good calls and calling good things to get us in the right place at the right time," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "It's just a matter of executing those things properly and getting the ball to the playmakers and us making plays."

"He's very consistent in his message," running back Rashad Jennings said. "He sees everybody as players -- he doesn't see us as individuals -- he treats everybody the same, and that's something that we respect."

Even McAdoo's counterpart on defense, coordinator Perry Fewell, raved about McAdoo.

"I'm Ben's champion," Fewell said. "We as a staff have a lot of confidence in him. He's ready for the position, he's built for the position. He's in New York, and there's a lot of expectations here."

That's one thing McAdoo did admit on Friday -- he knows the pressure is on.

"I knew what I signed up for when I signed a contract [here]," McAdoo said. "[I'll] never back down from that. I’m excited. I look forward to it."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Andre Williams did not intend to become the center of attention this week.

He let his play do most of the talking Friday night.

Andre Williams
Bill Kostroun/Associated PressAndre Williams ran for 49 yards and a touchdown in the Giants' victory over the Jets on Friday.
The rookie carried the ball 11 times for 49 yards, including a 33-yard scamper and a one-yard touchdown run, which put the Giants ahead for good in a 35-24 win over the Jets.

In an interview earlier in the week, Williams referred to the Giants as "the real New York team," which led Jets coach Rex Ryan to take a shot at the former Boston College running back in response.

"Last time I saw him he was getting smoked by Clemson," Ryan said.

Jets guard Willie Colon chimed in Thursday regarding Williams, saying, "We'll answer his remarks tomorrow." But Williams had the last laugh, although his touchdown celebration certainly wasn't over the top.

Williams simply placed the ball on the turf, and then raised his left index finger over his facemask.

After the game, Williams was asked if he was shushing himself, or the Jets. He chuckled before answering.

"It was for both I guess," Williams said. "There was a lot of talk going on on the field between players, and I guess I was telling myself that I need to be quiet. I got my moment of peace getting in the end zone."

Williams was clearly surprised, and a little uncomfortable, that his comment ignited a minor firestorm this week.

"The game was about getting better as an offense, coming together as an offense, and winning the game is the goal of every game," Williams said. "It really wasn’t about any of that stuff that was going on earlier in the week."

We probably won't hear Williams say anything remotely controversial in the days and weeks ahead.

But, more importantly, Williams continues to look like a sold complementary back to Rashad Jennings. In four preseason games, he has 33 carries for 151 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and two scores.

As for Ryan, the Jets coach and Williams did have an exchange on the field after the game.

"He just shook my hand and told my I had a great game," Williams said. "I said thank you, and let him know that I do have the utmost respect for him and his team."

Controversy concluded.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- First-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. was on the sidelines for the second consecutive day Wednesday, but fellow wide receivers Corey Washington and Marcus Harris continue to impress.

Washington and Harris both got some first-team reps and caught practically everything thrown their way. Washington continues to use his height (6-foot-4) to his advantage, hauling in a couple of touchdown passes on fade routes in the back corner of the end zone.

Washington did have one glaring drop during a two-minute drill at the very end of practice.

Harris made several catches as well on a day in which the Giants' offense looked crisper than it has for much of the summer.

Here are a few other observations from Wednesday:
  • Beckham was joined on the sidelines by cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), cornerback Jayron Hosley (foot), running back Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), wide receiver Trindon Holliday (hamstring), tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring), offensive lineman Charles Brown (shoulder) and offensive lineman James Brewer (back). None of them are expected to play Friday night against the Jets. Coach Tom Coughlin also revealed that injured safety Cooper Taylor (foot) will be having surgery, and it's possible he'll be placed on injured reserve.
  • The Giants continue to do some shuffling on the offensive line. We saw a new configuration at one point Wednesday, with Justin Pugh shifting from right tackle to left tackle, rookie Weston Richburg at left guard, J.D. Walton at center, Brandon Mosley at right guard and Geoff Schwartz at right tackle. Pugh also got some snaps at left tackle on Tuesday. Schwartz, the presumed starting left guard at the beginning of training camp, played some right guard on Tuesday and moved over to right tackle for the first time on Wednesday. "We just want to mix them around, make sure that guys can be flexible enough to move," Coughlin said. Part of the reason for these shifts is the absence of both Brown and Brewer, who are second and third on the depth chart at left tackle, behind Will Beatty. But the Giants' offensive line alignment is clearly not settled at this point, which is a little worrisome.
  • The Giants' tight ends continue to be underwhelming as a whole, but undrafted free agent Jerome Cunningham made a couple of nice plays Wednesday, earning praise from Coughlin. An undrafted free agent from Southern Connecticut State, Cunningham signed with the Giants just two weeks ago, and has a neat back story. More on him on the Giants blog Thursday.
  • Eli Manning did throw one interception Wednesday, and it was to Jay Bromley, of all people. The 6-foot-3, 306-pound rookie defensive end took a pass to the chest and held on, the latest good play by the third-round pick, who's having a good preseason.
  • In the highly competitive position battle at place-kicker, incumbent Josh Brown took a step back Wednesday, missing a long field goal attempt on the last play of practice -- not the kind of taste you want to leave when you're trying to hold off a strong challenge from the very strong-legged Brandon McManus.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The annual preseason game between the New York Jets and New York Giants may not actually count, but you wouldn't know that for all the verbiage -- and regret -- that comes with it every season.

Jets coach Rex Ryan picked up on Giants running back Andre Williams' comments that the Giants were the "real New York team," and then Ryan shot back at the rookie. The teams square off on Friday night.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP PhotoCoach Rex Ryan and the Jets say they're fired up for Friday's preseason game against the Giants.
"Last time I saw him he was getting smoked by Clemson," Ryan said Wednesday, referring to an Oct. 12 game between Williams' Boston College Eagles and Clemson, the team Ryan's son Seth plays for. The Tigers won that game 24-14 and held Williams to 70 yards on 24 carries.

"I will say that kid's a good back, though. He is," Ryan said. "I was like, 'Is anybody going to tackle him?' It's great. I have a funny feeling he's going to get some Riddells [helmets] on him, but we'll see. I have a feeling he's going to be pumped up and trust me, our guys are going to be pumped up, too."

Ryan said the back and forth just shows once again that the matchup between the two New York teams means a little more than other preseason games.

"This is the only time you get to play each other," Ryan said, "and I think it amps up a little bit. I really do."

As if to back his coach up, Jets defensive lineman Damon Harrison called out Williams via social media.

"See you Friday Mr. Williams...#JetLifeeeeee," Harrison tweeted.

Now for the regret.

Last year, Ryan put likely starter Mark Sanchez in during the fourth quarter of the Jets-Giants game. The quarterback took a hit from Marvin Austin that resulted in a season-ending shoulder injury.

During his postgame news conference, Ryan got so frustrated by one persistent line of questioning that he turned sideways to answer.

"I got a lot of flak from you guys," Ryan said Wednesday. "Let's face it, they [wanted to] run me out of here. Was that my proudest moment? Probably not. It's kind of funny, I forget who I was sideways with. But you know what? I think I just got a little tired of [the questions]."

The question that got to Ryan that night: Was he ready to name Geno Smith as the starting quarterback, given the injury to Sanchez? Ryan said then he wasn't going to answer.

"Sometimes after games," the coach said Wednesday, "we tell our players to cool off a little bit, but sometimes I need to cool off, too."

Ultimately, the Jets put Sanchez on the reserve/injured list as the one player designated to return. Now he's playing backup for the Eagles, and looking a lot better.

Given an opportunity to redo the news conference, Ryan said he would do it differently.

"There's a lot of things you'd take back in life," he said. "That's probably one of them."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' first-string offense has looked terrible thus far in the preseason, but one of its stars sees better things ahead.

In fact, he's seen better things already, in the team's three practices this week.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsGiants QB Eli Manning has mostly struggled with his passing during the preseason.
"You can see a renewed energy out there on the practice field," wide receiver Victor Cruz said Wednesday. "Everybody’s getting things done at the right pace, everybody has an energy about themselves to know that we've gotta change the current mood that’s around here offensively. We've gotta get things going, we've gotta get on the right track."

The offense did look crisper Wednesday, with quarterback Eli Manning connecting with his receivers more often than he has in many practices thus far.

More telling will be Friday night's game against the New York Jets, in which Giants coach Tom Coughlin plans to play his starters the entire first half, or close to it.

"Based on last week I would hope that there is a significant production and better quality of play from our [first string], certainly," Coughlin said.

He was very unhappy with that unit following the team's game against the Indianapolis Colts last Saturday. Manning completed just 1 of 7 passes for 6 yards, and is 7-for-16 for 49 yards in three preseason games. Cruz has yet to catch a pass in three games.

The coach wants to see more, and "we got the message," said Cruz.

"He has a way of saying it that makes it very loud and very clear," Cruz said, smiling. [But] he didn’t even have to say anything for us to know that we had to play better and we had to perform better."

The slow start is a little less surprising given that the team has a new offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, installing a new offense.

That being said, the Giants have played three games now, and the regular-season opener is only 19 days away.

The Jets game will likely be the starters' final extended chance to show what they can do, since coaches typically don't play first-stringers much, if at all, in the final game of the preseason.

Learning a new offense isn't the only challenge the Giants are facing. Rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr., expected to be a major contributor this season, continues to be sidelined by a hamstring injury. He didn't practice again Wednesday, and has already been ruled out for the Jets game.

Coughlin continues to tinker with his offensive line. Right tackle Justin Pugh played some left tackle again Wednesday, for the second straight day. Geoff Schwartz, the presumed starting left guard, shifted to right tackle at one point, after playing some right guard Tuesday. The starting five, and their alignment, is far from set in stone.

And the Giants currently have six tight ends on the roster with a grand total of six catches in the NFL last season, and none have emerged as a clear-cut starter or likely major contributor to the passing game.

When asked Wednesday if the tight end picture has become any clearer, Coughlin's response was, "Well, they’ve all contributed, so we’ll keep asking them to do that."

But the Giants still have Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, and Cruz, a two-time 1,000-yard receiver. And Cruz says the Giants still believe in themselves despite the lackluster start.

"We definitely have enough confidence in ourselves, knowing that everybody’s gonna be OK," Cruz said. "But from an offensive standpoint, we definitely want to make some plays [Friday], have some success to kind of build on that confidence."

Giants Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. participated in individual drills Monday. Beckham, the team’s first-round draft pick, hasn’t practiced since injuring a hamstring on July 22, the very first day of training camp. “They said he did all right, and maybe they can extend it a little bit tomorrow, I hope,” coach Tom Coughlin said. The highlight of Beckham's day was a one-handed catch on a pass from Eli Manning. “He’s out there running around, doing individual (drills), that’s all I saw,” Coughlin said. “Did he look fast? He probably wasn’t full speed today, but he did some things. I won’t be able to ascertain anything until he takes some team stuff.” Fellow wideout Victor Cruz (knee) was given a day off as a maintenance day, but Coughlin said Cruz will practice Tuesday.
  • The injury report was a long one. It included wide receivers Jerrel Jernigan (knee) and Marcus Harris (hip) -- both are expected to return Tuesday as well. Also sitting out: fullback John Conner (concussion), tight ends Daniel Fells (knee) and Xavier Grimble (hamstring), running back Peyton Hillis (foot), wide receiver/kick returner Trindon Holliday (hamstring), cornerback Jayron Hosley (foot), defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder) amd linebacker Jon Beason (foot).
  • Third-string quarterback Curtis Painter worked with the second team, while backup QB Ryan Nassib took snaps with the third team. Painter had been working with the 3s, and Nassib with the 2s, but Painter played extremely well Saturday against the Steelers. “Curtis certain did earn it, but I never put them in any kind of order for you and I won’t do it now, either,” Coughlin said. “They both have worked with the seconds, they both have worked with the threes and we will decide later in the week how we are going to play.”
  • Wide receiver Corey Washington -- a long-shot at the start of camp, but with two touchdown catches in the team's first two preseason games -- had a phenomenal practice. Working with the starters, he had three consecutive catches during a 2-minute drill and made a jumping grab over cornerback Zack Bowman near the sideline. Fellow wideout Rueben Randle made an amazing one-handed 50-yard catch in the back of the end zone from Manning with Prince Amukamara and Stevie Brown draped all over him.
Eli Manning is healthy, but that's not the only reason to be excited, New York Giants fans.

Manning also sounds rejuvenated by the process of learning a new offense under new coordinator Ben McAdoo.

Manning
"It is tough, it's not easy, but it has definitely re-energized me and brought an urgency to this time of year," Manning said Tuesday, on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP is coming off arguably the poorest season of his career, if you toss out the nine games he played in his rookie season. Manning threw for just 18 touchdowns, with a league-high 27 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of just 69.4 in 2013.

His work ethic has never been questioned, but it sounds like Manning's working even harder than usual.

"It's definitely challenging. Each night, I'm staying up and preparing, and I feel like I'm in season right now with the amount of preparation I'm trying to put in to get ready for each practice," Manning said.

"Each practice is draining on you mentally, you're thinking so much about everything that has to go on and the different calls," the quarterback continued. "But it is also exciting. As a football player, as a competitor, you like to be challenged."

The Giants have two more organized team activities, on Thursday and Friday, followed by a mandatory three-day minicamp next week. Manning has been able to participate fully in the team's first eight OTAs, despite undergoing ankle surgery in April.

That should pay dividends, as the 33-year-old prepares to play under a new offensive coordinator for the first time in his career.

"This has been huge, just getting in the offense," Manning said. "It's one thing to listen to a play being called or watch plays being run -- you may think you have a good grasp of it, until you're out there and you gotta pull the trigger, you gotta make a call, you gotta change a play and you’re doing it live, and with the defense, and make all those little decisions. It was huge."
There are only 13 coaches in NFL history who have won multiple Super Bowls.

Two of them were at the New York Giants' training facility on Tuesday.

Current head coach Tom Coughlin welcomed former Giants coach Bill Parcells to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The two men responsible for the franchise's four Super Bowl victories posed for a photo in front of the trophy case in the lobby, which features their handiwork:



That's not all they did Tuesday. The Giants held their eighth of 10 organized team activities (this one closed to the media), with Parcells watching, and the 2013 Hall of Fame inductee addressed the team on the field at the end of practice, according to Giants.com.

The Giants' final two OTAs are on Thursday and Friday. The Thursday session is open to the media, as is next week's mandatory three-day minicamp.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Four weeks ago, at the New York Giants' first player availability of the offseason, Walter Thurmond boasted that the team's secondary could be better than the Seahawks' Legion of Boom, and Antrel Rolle said Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be the best cornerback in the NFL.

There were no such proclamations this Tuesday, during the team's second availability of the spring. But Rodgers-Cromartie did talk to reporters, and sounds bullish about the Giants' defense come this fall.

Rolle
Rodgers-Cromartie
"It can be real good," he said. "Not even from just a secondary standpoint -- I look at going through these drills with the linebackers, they definitely understand the coverages and how to drop. So I think that'll be helpful, when your linebackers and secondary are of one accord."

Rodgers-Cromartie signed a five-year, $39 million contract ($15 million guaranteed) with the Giants back in March, after also meeting with the New York Jets, and said Tuesday that his decision was not an easy one.

"It was very difficult," he said. "You visit both teams, and both teams seem really, really interested in you. But at the end of the day, I felt comfortable coming over here just with the things that were being said and that were going to be done -- I just felt that would better help me as a football player."

It sounds like Rolle's influence was key. The two were teammates with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 and 2009.

"He just hit me up and said a couple things that hit home," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "He was like, 'I think you can be this and that in our system, and the coaches and everybody else will help you get to it, just buy into it.'"

A former first-round pick back in 2008, with 19 interceptions in six seasons, Rodgers-Cromartie is now on his fourth NFL team -- and he's hoping to stay awhile this time around. He said he's been sitting next to Rolle in team meetings, to speed his learning of the new terminology.

He also admits hearing what Rolle said about him last month, and appreciates the compliment, but will let his play do the talking.

"Whenever you've got somebody that believes in you, you want to go out there and just go that much harder," Rodgers-Cromartie said, "kind of not be a letdown and hold up your end of the bargain."

Wake-up call: Combine, Day 4

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
6:00
AM ET
On the schedule for Saturday in Indianapolis:

Giants/Jets media availability: Giants general manager Jerry Reese will address the media at 10 a.m., one day after his coach -- Tom Coughlin -- announced his own one-year contract extension. No doubt, Reese will be asked about Coughlin, but most of the topics will be personnel-related. The Giants' talent base has decayed the last two years, and Reese needs a home-run draft to get them back in the playoffs. There will be no Jets media availability.

Combine schedule: This is the busiest day because there are four different player groups involved in various activities. The offensive linemen and tight ends finish up their week with on-field drills -- springs, agility stations and skill drills. ... The quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers move to their next phase -- psychological testing, bench press and team interviews. ... The defensive linemen and linebackers get into the action with measurements, medical exams, team interviews and media obligations. ... The defensive backs arrive in town, starting with a medical pre-exam and X-rays, orientation and team interviews.

Players of interest: The big story -- the big, big story -- will be Michael Sam. If you haven't heard of him, you're welcome to rejoin our society at any time now. The former Missouri defensive end, who came out recently as gay, is scheduled to meet the media. It probably will be the largest news conference in combine history, assuming it happens. The schedule got jammed up Friday because medical exams took longer than expected, causing some of the wide receivers (including the top prospects) to postpone their media sessions until Saturday. Hopefully, Sam stays on schedule because it should be fascinating.

Wake-up call: Combine, Day 2

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
6:00
AM ET
On the schedule for Thursday in Indianapolis:

Local media: New York Jets coach Rex Ryan (2:45 p.m.) and general manager John Idzik (3 p.m.) are scheduled for news conferences. The hot topics will be the futures of Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie; the draft and free agency; and the organization's first public comment on former Missouri DE Michael Sam. The New York Giants' media availability begins Friday.

Combine schedule: Placekickers, special teamers, offensive linemen and tight ends will undergo medical exams, measurements and team interviews. They also will be available to the media. ... Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs arrive in town. They will have a medical pre-exam, X-rays, orientation and team interviews.

Players of interest: The Jets (18th overall pick) and Giants (12th) both have a need at tight end, so North Carolina's Eric Ebron -- the consensus top player at the position -- will be a focal point among the New York reporters. Ebron has the ability to light up the combine -- on and off the field. He's confident and entertaining, once bragging that his speed should be "illegal." He will be asked about his weight in light of a recent report that he put on extra pounds in an effort to become a better blocker. ... The Giants need help at offensive tackle, so Thursday's media session will offer a chance to meet first-round possibilities, namely Michigan's Taylor Lewan. We know how the Giants love those Big 10 linemen.

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