<
>

Eli Manning gives Giants focus

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning stood up and talked to the New York Giants on Tuesday, delivering a message that was heard "loud and clear."

Manning told the Giants that they need to approach the next week and a half before their Super Bowl rematch with the Patriots with a business-like mentality. He instructed teammates who had never been to a Super Bowl on how to handle the enormity of the game and the week leading up to it.

Since the low-key quarterback likes to lead by example, Manning's speeches to the team are always heard.

"We got an excellent message from Eli," safety Antrel Rolle said. "It was very well-needed. For players like myself who have been to a Super Bowl, it is still great to hear someone speak with that kind of leadership. And you know, Eli doesn't say much. When he says it, he means it and you know it is coming from the heart."

On Tuesday, Manning even delivered a message to reporters as well when asked if he had any regrets about saying that he is an elite quarterback back during training camp.

"I thought I gave an honest answer," he said. "I didn't regret it at the time or think anything of it. Obviously it has been made into a big deal and I can't always control that. My job is to play the game, it's your job to talk and make up stories."

Manning clearly is all about the business at hand and that is finding a way to beat the Patriots for the second time this season and second time in a Super Bowl.

He is looking for his second title playing the best football of his career. He's a more confident quarterback and he knows what to expect now that he has been through a Super Bowl and all the distractions that come along with the biggest spectacle in sports.

Manning is also the undisputed leader of the Giants, whereas in 2007 they had Michael Strahan leading the team.

The quarterback remembered hearing Strahan and Amani Toomer, two Giants who had played against the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, telling the Giants about what to expect and how not to let the moment take a hold of you.

"They gave good messages that week on getting ready and getting focused and not being wowed by the experience and thinking, 'Hey, I'm about to play in the Super Bowl' or watching the cameras flash on kickoff," Manning said. "If you get involved in that, all of the sudden, once you start playing, it is already the second quarter."

Manning emphasized to his teammates to prepare this week as if they were playing a game this week and to stick to their normal routine.

And even though they will be on the road next week in Indianapolis, Manning told them to try to do whatever it is they do at home to get prepared for a game. Try not to change anything up.

"We have to have great preparation," Manning said about his message. "Prepare like you are playing a game this week. Once you get to Indianapolis, you got to take a bus ride to practice, your whole schedule gets thrown off."

"So you want to try your best to keep [your routine]," he continued. "If there are certain things you do during a normal week, if you get a massage on a certain day or treatment or get an extra workout in, you want to try to continue to do those things and have the same rhythm."

Rolle has emerged as a vocal leader on the team and often delivers messages on behalf of his teammates through the media if he believes it will help the team. Manning, on the other hand, doesn't ever say much. That's why when he talks, it sticks with the Giants.

"I talk to Eli a lot," Rolle said. "Eli and I have a lot of side conversations. He is a leader, man."

Rolle added that Manning's gusty performance during the 20-17 overtime win over the Niners resonated with the team. Playing against the best defense he has faced all season, Manning was hit 12 times and sacked six times but kept getting up and didn't have a turnover.

"A lot of people question just because of the facial expressions that he may make, how much fight does he have and how tough is he," Rolle said. "Let's put it this way, if he can handle what he did going up against the 49ers and their front seven, you can't question his toughness."

"What he said was a message that needed to be said and a message that was heard loud and clear for everyone," Rolle added. "Basically this is about business, let's go take care and get it done, whatever the cost."

Defensive end Justin Tuck said preparation will be key, because the game could be "another one of those epic Super Bowls."

"It might come down to the team who has the ball last," Tuck said Tuesday. "It is going to be fun getting prepared for these guys. They do so many different things. We are going to have a long week of study."

But Tuck, the Giants' defensive captain, believes New York's defense matches up well against quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots' multi-faceted offense.

"He thrives on mismatches," Tuck said of Brady. "And I think we match up well with them. With those tight ends and Wes (Welker) and (Deion) Branch, they can pretty much go with any route that they want to go with creating mismatches. The people that we have in our secondary, we have safeties that play like corners and we can pretty much match up with those guys."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.