Thursday, October 6, 2011
Updated: October 7, 8:37 AM ET
WR Mario Manningham still a starter
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Stop the speculation: Wide receiver Mario Manningham is still a starter for the New York Giants.
Manningham was taken out during a series last Sunday in Arizona in favor of slot wide receiver Victor Cruz, and had just one reception while being targeted only five times, but offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said the the 25-year-old will remain a first-teamer opposite top target Hakeem Nicks.
"Yeah, [Manningham's still the starter]," Gilbride said Thursday. "He had a good game. That was really his best game. He had nothing to show for it production-wise, but he ran a lot of good routes, got himself open. Just because of the coverage or what have you, the ball went the other way. But really that was his best game."
Gilbride said Manningham wasn't benched, even though it looked like he was having some miscommunication issues with quarterback Eli Manning early in Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Manningham later conceded that point.
"It was just really seeing some things that we wanted to see Victor do, that we thought Victor would do more effectively," Gilbride said of the brief switch from Manningham to Cruz. "We'll always do that. We'll move people around. We'll play Manningham in a certain spot. We'll put in Victor at certain spots. We'll have Hakeem do different things. It's really just taking advantage of the ability level of that guy for that particular play."
While Manningham had just 10 yards receiving in the Giants' 31-27 victory, Cruz hauled in six receptions for 98 yards.
"It's cool," Manningham said Thursday when asked about whether he was displeased with his involvement on Sunday. "It is a long season, you never know what could happen."
Manningham said he wasn't upset about watching Cruz from the sideline, and had said he'd remain a starter opposite Nicks.
"No," Manningham said. "You got to have a short-term memory to play wide receiver or defensive back."
Manningham, who suffered a concussion in Week 2 and missed Week 3, has gotten off to an extremely slow start this season. In three games, he has just eight receptions for 110 yards -- or three receptions and 115 yards less than Cruz.
"That was two weeks ago, man," Manningham said of the concussion. "I'm good. Cool."
Given that Manningham ran his best routes of the season last Sunday, Gilbride expects him to still be a weapon for the Giants.
"[Manningham] will get more than his fair shot at being the guy," Gilbride said. "It's basically what are people doing defensively and where are they most vulnerable and what are our matchups that best give us a chance to have success, and certainly he's a big part of that."
As for Cruz, Gilbride said, "I see very slow, steady improvement, which is great. That's what we're hoping for."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.