EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — No one is pushing two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning harder than himself entering a record 16th training camp with the New York Giants.
The 38-year-old quarterback has always been that way. It doesn’t make a difference the Giants are coming off two straight horrible seasons, or they have made the playoffs once since 2011, or that Manning is in the final year of his contract.
It certainly has nothing to do with a rookie heir apparent in camp for the first time in his career.
Daniel Jones, the sixth draft pick overall, is going to be the Giants’ starting quarterback. When is the question? It could be this season if New York gets off to another poor start. Next year is more likely.
Still, Manning isn’t worrying about a quarterback competition. He is simply working, which is what he has always done.
“I have a job to go out there and do my best,” Manning said Wednesday after veterans reported. “It doesn’t change. It hasn’t changed for 16 years and it never will. You go out there and you are competing against the defense. Whenever I am up, I am competing against the defense and trying to get our players to play their best and make plays.”
Manning feels fortunate to still be playing and to have a chance to take advantage of this season. He also has an appreciation for having played 15 seasons; nothing is guaranteed, of course.
Phil Simms, Michael Strahan and Mel Hein were the only other Giants to play 15 seasons. Manning is the first to report to camp No. 16.
With his age, Manning says there is some uncertainty. The 2004 No. 1 pick overall said what has changed the most preparing for training camps is what he has to do to keep up.
When he was younger, the hard work was on the mental aspects of the game: learning the protections, the blitzes, what calls to make on certain plays and what coverages are good and bad for certain plays. He understands those things now.
“Now the work is on the maintenance. The stretching, getting loose, keeping your arm strength, your strength, and keeping your body fresh,” Manning said. “It’s more work at that as you get older. The hard work never changes. It’s just the hard areas you are working at.”
Manning said his hunger to compete and win is unchanged.
“One hundred percent,” said Manning, who threw for 4,299 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as the Giants went 5-11 last season. “That’s what it’s all about. First and foremost, I’m a competitor. I love to win, I love to succeed and do my best. Have great games, great practices, to win, to have that feeling in the locker room. That’s what drives you, to create that feeling in the locker room.”
Manning is not reflecting on what he has done during a career in which he holds most of the Giants’ passing records.
“It’s all about what I can do this year and do right now,” he said. “I think about the players we have on this team. I want those guys to experience some of the success that we’ve had here at the Giants in the past. To make playoffs and win championships and get on win streaks. To feel like you are playing better than anybody else in the league at that moment. Those are fun and great memories, but I’m not reflecting on those.”
Manning remembered his rookie season in 2004, saying his goal was to come in and earn the respect of his teammates. He said Jones is doing the same thing.
Coach Pat Shurmur, who confirmed Manning as his starter in the spring, said Jones has exceeded expectations in the minicamps. The goal is to get him ready to play.
“We’re less surprised about things than maybe some other people are because we knew he could throw the ball,” Shurmur said. “We knew he could move around. We knew he was smart. We knew he was tough. So we knew all of those things, and he hasn’t disappointed us in any of those areas.”
NOTES: WR Darius Slayton, the fifth-round draft pick, is nursing a hamstring problem. Shurmur expects him back soon. …Rookie TE Isaiah Searight of Fordham was signed. TE Eric Dungey, the former Syracuse quarterback, was waived. Searight caught 89 passes for 1,119 yards and 10 TDs in college.
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