(Long Island, N.Y.) Poor Eli Manning. No matter what the guy does, he is always going to be compared to his older brother Peyton. Both overall number one draft picks, Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and now “Saturday Night Live” hosts.
Perhaps Eli needs to trail blaze instead of following his sibling’s path.
At least the younger Manning hasn’t disappointed in any of his accomplishments, with the latest being high marks for his sense of humor and good-natured way. Of course Peyton came up in one of the skits last weekend, and that was another reason why this “rivalry” is mostly played up in the media and not between the two of them.
But none of that means anything now that the NFL’s offseason training programs have begun around the league. Fun and games are for another day; getting back to work and defending the New York Giants’ championship is what is important to Manning.Eli Manning, that is.
“It’s good to be back, to be around all of the guys again and seeing everybody after a two-month break and getting back to work and start discussing the things we need to change; things we need to improve on and get to working on them,” he said the first day back at the team’s training facilities in New Jersey.
Since stunning the New England Patriots in Indianapolis, the Giants have undergone some changes, albeit not major ones. Two offensive players bolted to join the San Francisco as free agents – running back Brandon Jacobs and wide receiver Mario Manningham – and although they may have played valuable roles on the squad, they are far from irreplaceable.
“Obviously we are going to need some guys to step up,” said Manning.
From who general manager Jerry Reese selected in the first two rounds of last month’s NFL Draft, he was thinking along the same lines. Picking last in the first round, Reese tabbed Virginia Tech running back David Wilson and then picked Rueben Randle in the second round.
The former Hokie Wilson will be Ahmad Bradshaw’s primary backup and the 5’10”, 205-pounder brings a lot of speed to the table. Last season, he had 290 carries for 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns. Randle had great success for LSU in his three years there and should be fine as the number three wideout on the G-Men. At 6’4″, he has the height that scouts look for and had better numbers each year as a Tiger.
Knowing full well that 2011 is over and the time is now to pick up where they left off, Manning added, “My focus in on this season. There is no point reliving last year.”
Another factor is the Super Bowl hangover effect, and Manning has company on the roster with other players who were also here for 2007 title. “I think that we had a pretty good approach after that one; a good mindset and a good work ethic, and taking the kind of attitude that we still have something to prove,” he commented on the 2008 campaign that started off good for the Giants but was later derailed by some key injuries.
Whatever happens in the 2012 season, Manning will be ready for it. Just ask his brother.