Saturday, July 30, 2011
Eli Manning won't lobby Giants for Plax
By Ohm Youngmisuk
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- While Plaxico Burress was having lunch with Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward at Steelers camp, Eli Manning said he did not speak to his old wide receiver on Friday night nor will he lobby to the New York Giants to bring back Burress.
Manning did say that he would welcome Burress back if the Giants organization chooses to go that route. But otherwise, Manning chose to stay out of the Burress fray.
"It is not up to me," Manning told reporters at Giants camp on Saturday. "They haven't talked to me about it so we'll see what they decide. I don't think it is a situation for me to lobby and this or that. Obviously he has been here before and it is going to come down to what Coach (Tom) Coughlin thinks and if he is mentally ready to come back and be a great teammate and if the ownership here has put everything behind."
Coughlin said he enjoyed his one-hour meeting with Burress on Friday. When asked if there will be a second step and are the Giants interested in pursuing Burress, Coughlin replied, "possibly."
"Plaxico and I did have a nice conversation," Coughlin said. "I was very happy that he came in and we visited. I told him that the conversation would be confidential and that is my position."
Coughlin said on Friday prior to the meeting that he wanted to see sincerity from Burress and a sense of responsibility and commitment from the receiver. When asked if he was able to gauge that from the hour-long meeting, Coughlin said, "I think so, yes."
In a phone interview with the Newark Star-Ledger, Burress described his meeting with Coughlin as "very positive." He also said he has not ruled anybody out yet.
"Yeah, I think it went well," he said. "We ironed a couple of things out. I thought it was very positive."
"I haven't ruled out anybody," Burress continued. "I don't know who's talking or whatever, but I haven't ruled anybody out."
Manning said he spoke with Burress a few weeks ago by telephone to catch up. But when Burress was at the team facility visiting the Giants on Friday night, Manning said he was busy preparing his receivers and offensive line for the team's first practice of the year and did not know when Burress was in the facility.
"We are working and I got 10 receivers that I am trying to get prepared for practice today and offensive linemen, that is where my focus is," Manning said.
Manning added that it's not his style to lobby to management to make personnel moves. The team still has to re-sign several of Manning's weapons, such as running back Ahmad Bradshaw, wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss.
Defensive captain Justin Tuck made it clear the Giants need their old 6-foot-5 playmaking wide receiver back.
"Yes, we do," Tuck said at the team's practice facility. "Is he going to make or break our season? No. We have a lot of quality football payers. Is he going to help us? Absolutely."
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Burress had breakfast with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, director of football operations Kevin Colbert and team president Art Rooney. He then sat down with Roethlisberger and backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, Ward and linebacker James Farrior.
The Post-Gazette reported that Burress will not re-sign with the Giants according to sources there. The paper also said Burress told some Steelers that the Jets and 49ers were interested in him but that it's believed to be between the Steelers and Jets for the wide receiver.
Burress also spoke fondly about his visit on Saturday with the team that drafted him, the Steelers.
"I got a chance to see all my boys, all the fellas," Burress told paper. "It brought back a lot of memories, that's for sure. Some great memories -- great memories."
A source told ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini that Burress could meet with the Jets within 24 hours, but according to reports, the meeting may not happen until Monday at the earliest. On Friday night, a source close to Burress said the receiver had his eyes on the Eagles. So it is possible that there is a lot of leveraging going on.
"You could say the same thing about the Nnamdi Asomugha deal, nobody saw the Eagles last night either," Tuck said when told that a report said it was between the Jets and Steelers for Burress.
Tuck remains optimistic that Burress could return. Burress sat down for an hour with Coughlin before meeting with general manager Jerry Reese and co-owner John Mara for 15 minutes each. He said several Giants players made the wide receiver feel welcomed when they came out of meetings to greet Burress during his 90-minute visit on Friday night.
"It was a good overall vibe for him and hopefully that coincides with him putting back on the blue," Tuck said.
Tuck didn't know that Manning did not have a chance to talk to Burress. The defensive end said he may call Burress Saturday night to make another pitch.
He said he could ask Manning to talk to Burress too, if the opportunity presents itself.
"You just have to see what the Giants feel," Manning said. "And what's the best spot for Plaxico and where he wants to be."
If Burress were to sign elsewhere, Manning felt the Giants have enough talent to compensate with Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon and other young wideouts such as Victor Cruz and Ramses Barden among others. There's also a running game that features Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware and possibly Ahmad Bradshaw, if he were to re-sign with New York. Re-signing Boss to play tight end also would help.
"We have a lot of skills in the offensive positions and a lot of receivers who can make big plays," Manning said. "We have a number of guys that can step up and prove that they can be depended on, week in and week out."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.