Eli Manning Focused on the Present

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Patricia Traina

Eli Manning opened his first press conference since he was benched in Week 2 for rookie Daniel Jones with a tongue-in-cheek "I missed you guys" to the media gathered around him.

But even after 10 weeks out of the spotlight--the only time Manning has been seen in public is on game days when he's been there on the Giants sideline to support Jones and the rest of his teammates--Manning hasn't changed much regarding where his focus lies.

That would be on the upcoming opponent, which for this week, is the Philadelphia Eagles, whom the Giants visit Monday night.

"We’ll see what happens Monday, but business as usual," Manning said in front of his locker Wednesday after head coach Pat Shurmur announced that Jones has a moderate high ankle sprain that will likely force him to miss his first start in 10 games.

"You get the game plan, start prepping for Philly. (We’re) going against a good defense we ‘ve faced a number of years, (we) know them well. Just have to get back in the mix with the offensive line and receivers, make sure timing is where it needs to be."

Manning wouldn’t come right out and say it, but the time spent away from the game has not sat well with the 16-year NFL veteran. Although he hasn’t created waves by demanding trades, pouting, or withholding his assistance to Jones as the rest of the team, Manning admitted that being a gameday spectator has been difficult.   

“You miss being a part of the action and practicing and all that,” he said, adding, “Felt good to get out there today and throw it around and compete a little bit.  

“Eli looks good,” Shurmur said after practice. “He’s been ready to play all year. If, in fact he does play this week, he will be ready to go. I expect him to go out and have a winning performance.” 

Manning believes he will be able to do that despite the lack of gameday reps.

“Yeah, you’re still practicing, you’re still out there,” he said. “Sometimes you’re running other people’s plays, but you’re still throwing it, hitting guys in stride and trying to throw it accurately and doing all of the drills. Hope to get back there and be sharp.”

  If there is a bright side to the timing of Manning’s return, it’s that the quarterback has had a chance to heal from the early season bumps and bruises he might have suffered. 

He could also be looking at having all of his main offensive skill players--tight end Evan Engram, receivers Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, and running back Saquon Barkley--ready to go for the first time as a group this season.

Regardless of how Manning does, Shurmur has already said that Jones will get the job back once he’s healthy enough to play again-- if he’s healthy enough to play again this season, that is. 

 Manning, who’s in the final year of his contract, spent the off-season changing up his training to ensure he kept up his remarkable durability streak in which he’s never missed a game due to injury.

But don’t expect Manning, who is is 1-9 in his last ten games against the Eagles, to use this opportunity as a chance to change the minds of the Giants’ brass regarding the future at quarterback.

“Again, take it one game at a time. You never want to try to make decisions about your future while you’re still living in the present and don’t know the circumstances of what could happen,” he said. 

“Just have to go out there and try to get a win for the Giants if I’m asked to do that. I’ll analyze everything else after the season.