EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning didn’t play a lot in the preseason a year ago for the New York Giants and that may not change this year.
Manning appeared in two of the four preseason games in 2016 and threw 38 passes before leading the Giants to an 11-5 record and their first playoff appearance since the 2011 Super Bowl season.
Neither coach Ben McAdoo nor Manning shed any news on how much Manning will play Friday when the Giants open the preseason at MetLife Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Manning did not play in either the first or last preseason game in 2016 so don’t be surprised if he stands on the sideline and watches Geno Smith, Josh Johnson and rookie Davis Webb play.
“We haven’t had our play-time meeting yet,” McAdoo said Monday after the Giants were forced to practice indoors because of rain.
Manning wondered what the coach said when asked about Friday. He laughed when someone said the coach left it up to him, but said he did not know the answer.
“I think I got enough action over the last 14 years to get me ready for the upcoming season,” the 36-year-old, two-time Super Bowl MVP said.
What has gotten Manning excited is playing with the offense this season, especially with Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Evan Engram added to a receiving corps that includes Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard.
Marshall, the former Jet who signed with the Giants as a free agent in the offseason, is starting to get on the same page with Manning.
“You can kind of talk about everything, but you’ve got to get in as many live reps, one-on-ones, get running different routes, getting on the same timing with things will be good,” Manning said. “Same with Evan. He’s making some plays, doing a lot of good things, but the more one-on-ones, the more situations, different things coming up every practice. There’s something to learn from it every day.”
Marshall gives Manning a receiver similar to Plaxico Burress, who caught at game-winning Super Bowl touchdown from Manning in the stunning defeat of the Patriots in February 2008. He is big, knows his football and can go up and get the ball.
After a couple of years, Manning knew what Burress was going to do. He is hoping to develop that with Marshall.
“Brandon’s been great,” Marshall said. “Every day trying to learn, always has questions for me and we’re trying to figure out what he can do better, how we can get on the same page. So, I think he’s been dialed in and been a great leader and just setting the example for how to be prepared for every practice.”
The question mark for the offense is going to be the running game. It was horrible last season.
The line was kept together and second-year back Paul Perkins has been working with the first team, backed up by Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa and rookie Wayne Gallman.
Manning said line has been getting a push in the preseason and he hopes that bodes well.
“It’s a work in progress just like everything else at this point,” Vereen said of the running game. “It’s definitely, in the running back room, I can say it’s a priority. We all take pride in ourselves and in the run game. We’re working very hard.”
Friday may show how far the line and the backs have come.
NOTES: Shepard was back on the field after spraining his ankle on Wednesday. … WR Tavarres King hopes to return soon from his sprained ankle. … CB Valentino Blake practiced after missing a couple of days with a back injury. … CB Donte Deayon was returning an interception Monday when fellow CB Eli Apple knocked the ball out of his hands. “You’re on my team,” Deayon yelled. … TE Rhett Ellison, who signed with the Giants because of his blocking, had a couple of catches Monday. … Commissioner Roger Goodell held a fan forum with about 100 Giants season ticket holders and said he favors a three-game preseason with discounted ticket prices for the exhibition games. He said changes in the season structure have to be bargained collectively, he wondered whether he could just make the preseason change. He was going look into it.