Eli Manning will be back under center for the Giants in Monday’s preseason game against the Browns, and expect to see a lot of the starting quarterback.
Head coach Ben McAdoo said on Saturday that the plan is to have Manning play into the second quarter in the team’s second preseason game.
“We will take a look at it as it goes,” he said. “We will handle it very similarly to how we handled it last year.”
Last year the Giants had Manning play in two preseason games, completing 12 of 24 passes with no touchdowns and one interception.
He did not play in the first preseason game against the Steelers on Aug. 11 and neither did Odell Beckham Jr., who dressed but did not get on the field, while newcomer Brandon Marshall played just two snaps.
McAdoo said “everyone will be in the mix” this time around, so Manning and the Giants’ starting offense will be together for a game for the first time this year and the 36-year-old quarterback is looking forward to it.
“I think any time you get some live game exposure, you are trying to get on the same page as your receivers,” Manning said. “Make sure everybody is sound in our communication…doing the right things.”
While only preseason, Manning and the starting offense will be under a bit of a microscope beginning on Monday.
Last season, the offense struggled to score, failing to put up 30 points in any game against an easy schedule while Manning saw a dip in touchdowns from 35 to 26.
Many expect the additions of Marshall, Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison to spark last year’s stagnant offense, so much of the attention on Manning will be on how quickly he can start developing a rapport with the new guys.
“I think that’s big,” Manning said. “I think you’re always learning something from every practice, but especially from every game. They play different coverages or you get a different look and you have to adjust and learn from it.”
Marshall spoke earlier this week about Manning’s habit of spontaneously going over the playbook and routes with receivers, telling reporters a story of the two-time Super Bowl MVP giving him signals after stepping out of the shower.
It’s building those relationships with his wide receivers that Manning takes a lot of pride in.
“We have always talked about as a quarterback, you’ve got to be a great receivers coach,” Manning said. “That’s part of the job. You have to be able to coach up your receivers and talk to them about giving their sticks and giving them depth. You have to tell them exactly how you want them to do it and be on the same page as them.”
But don’t expect the play-calling to be designed specifically for the newcomers.
“That’s Coach McAdoo calling plays, and he’s calling good plays that he thinks will work,” Manning said. “The way we’ve kind of been told is you’re not always going to know where the receivers might be exactly and you don’t know the coverage. Everything can be different. If you’re calling plays that can be successful, you’ll have a chance to get completions.”
Having an arsenal of receiving weapons doesn’t come without any potential problems, either.
With guys like Beckham, Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Engram, Manning will have to spread the ball around to keep everyone happy. However, it’s not something Manning worries about.
“You can’t get overly concerned with if someone doesn’t have a catch, then you have to go out of your way to force a throw to them and that’s going to affect the team,” Manning said. “I’d like to have everybody have eight catches in a game, all the receivers. It’s not going to happen, but you never now. They all have to be ready and they have to get open.”
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