There was no scoreboard lit up in the end zone of any practice field Wednesday at the Giants’ minicamp.
Eli Manning said he wasn’t keeping any kind of mental scorecard, either, of the play-by-play action between him and Daniel Jones. He didn’t need to. Everyone else will do it for him.
For the first time in his career, Manning is practicing with his successor on the same field. After Manning takes his snaps with the first-team offense, Jones is right behind him with the second unit. Though Manning is the clear-cut starter with Jones battling for backup duty, their every move will be charted and compared until the day the first-round pick supplants the two-time Super Bowl champion.
It is only minicamp now, but soon it will be training camp, and then the watch will be on in the regular season. Both had strong efforts Wednesday — Manning started 10-for-10 and finished 13-for-17 while Jones was 11-for-14 during seven-on-seven and team periods. Still, Manning insisted he was not driven by the competition of Jones being here, even if it is his new reality.
“I mean, I think you’re driven just because it’s football and you got a job to do and you want to win games,” Manning said. “That’s what drives you, is going out there and winning. You work hard to do that and you deserve to win games and the team to win games. I think that’s what’s driving you to work hard in the offseason and compete every day at practice.”
Jones made the headlines Tuesday, when he faked a handoff and kept it for himself, running down the field with some burst as his teammates went wild.
Manning’s contributions Wednesday were not going to draw the same reaction, but the 38-year-old quietly went about his reps and flashed a few strong deep balls to Corey Coleman and Rhett Ellison.
“My mindset is just, ‘Hey, I gotta go do my job. I gotta compete and make plays,’” Manning said. “That’s what you’re trying to do. Every day at practice, gotta make good decisions, make the plays that are there to be made, be focused and ready to do that. And also help out everybody else in the quarterback room, receiver room, everybody, to get everyone else prepared to play as well.”
Since Manning took over for Kurt Warner as a rookie in 2004, he had never had a real threat practicing behind him. Even when the Giants drafted Davis Webb in the third round in 2017 as a possible longer-term replacement, Manning still had three years left on his contract.
Now there is Jones, the No. 6 pick in April’s draft, and one year left on Manning’s contract — not that he will admit any of that makes a difference in his daily work.
“Practices are the same,” Manning said. “Always competitive, always want to go out there and perform well and make the throws that need to be made.”
What Manning said he did feel different was his comfort in the offense entering its second year under coach Pat Shurmur. He has a better feel of what to expect — knowing how his receivers will run their routes and where his protection will be on certain plays.
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard and offensive coordinator Mike Shula have also taken note of Manning’s improved conditioning, with Shula noting he’s in better shape than last year and “really dialed in.”
How all of that impacts his ability to hold off Jones, however, remains to be seen — though it will be seen, and detailed, for the rest of the year.
“It’s [about] maintaining,” Manning said. “I think I’ve tried to attack those things that have nagged me in the past. I feel good right now. Now it’s just a matter of making sure you keep it that way.”
Source: Read Full Article