Eli Manning not feeling his age heading into 13th season
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Other than the elastic brace on his right knee, there was no visible sign that age was catching up to Eli Manning as he entered his 13th season as the New York Giants' quarterback.
The 35-year-old hasn't changed much since taking over as the Giants' starter halfway through his rookie season in 2004. He's healthy, even after starting the last 183 regular-season games. He can make all the throws and seems to be enjoying himself working within Ben McAdoo's West Coast offense.
Even handling the media is a breeze: When asked two questions at the same time Monday following training camp, Manning wasn't thrown off in the least. He answered the first, then quickly answered the second without having to be reminded of the question.
''I used to just kind of roll out of bed and go practice,'' Manning said. ''Now I need about an hour to get loosened up. It's just maintenance. I've gotten in the routine of doing it over the years. I see the difference and have stayed with it.''
The Giants rely on the two-time Super Bowl MVP. Without him, Odell Beckham would be wasting his time getting off the line of scrimmage. It's a role Manning accepts.
''I think as a quarterback you have a big responsibility,'' Manning said. ''You have to play well, take over and I have to do my job and play at a high level. I understand that, I demand that of myself anyway, so I don't think you try and put any added pressure.''
Manning, who has not thrown an interception since the opening 11-on-11 play of training camp, is going to be patient with his passing game early on this season.
Other than Beckham and Victor Cruz, there are a lot of new people. Second-round draft pick Sterling Shepard shows promise, and Dwayne Harris and Geremy Davis are expected to do more entering their second season.
However, they have a lot to learn, as do the seven other free-agent receivers in camp.
''I think you just understand that mistakes are going to happen. ... I try and kind of tell them things that it was tough for me to understand the first time,'' Manning said. That means talking the receivers through their mistakes, hoping they do better the next time.
There's one veteran who may benefit from Manning's help, too. Cruz has been limited to six games over the past two seasons by knee and thigh problems. Though Manning feels Cruz has looked sharp, he knows catching balls in game situations is different than in practice or catching from one thrown by a machine.
''Now hey, you have to turn back, you're running full speed, you have to adjust, hold a defender off a little bit, just making those tough catches and adjusting to the ball in the air are things that he's doing much better now'' Manning said. ''He just had to get some live action and is playing some football.''
Manning will get a chance to see how far the offense has come when the Giants host to the Miami Dolphins on Friday night.
McAdoo has not said how long Manning will play Friday. He won't even say whether he or offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan will call the plays; McAdoo did it for the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator before taking over the head coaching job from Tom Coughlin.
NOTES: McAdoo said third-round draft Darian Thompson is the favorite to start next to Landon Collins at safety. ... McAdoo on Manning's reaction after being intercepted on the first play of training camp: ''Mike Sullivan has known him for a long time. He says it all the time, `If Eli wasn't playing football, he'd probably be the world's greatest poker player,' and he didn't flinch. He just keeps playing.''
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