Eli Manning wouldn't name names, but for the first time in his career he opened up about the bad influence some of the veteran receivers had on him early in his career and the "bad habits" they fostered.
"I think early on we probably had receivers who in practice, you'd try to force them to get them balls so they don't get down or you keep them happy, and I think you create bad habits doing that," Manning said on Wednesday. "As I got older and we got younger, we got new guys in, it evolved to doing it the correct way, going through the reads, saying you have to earn the right to get open. It's all based on the coverage and on the reads and I have to make sure I'm doing the right things and not getting into bad habits."
It doesn't take a detective (or a rocket scientist) to create a list of suspects Manning is talking about. Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey would seem to be the most obvious culprits. There are others, perhaps, but those two veterans were here when Manning broke in and were his primary targets early on.
These days, Manning doesn't really have a "primary" target. And that's the point, he said. That's what has helped make him so effective. Sure, he regularly finds Victor Cruz. But he's just as likely to go to Hakeem Nicks or even tight end Martellus Bennett, or check down to a running back. Through the first seven games, four Giants have at least 22 receptions, and seven have at least 12 catches. A total of 12 Giants have caught passes from Manning this season.
"As a quarterback you always want to trust your guys and I tell them that I don't have favorites, I'm not going to force it to one guy," Manning said. "I have a read and a progression. If you want to know what my progression is, I'll be happy to tell you. And I'm going to stick to that. If you're my first read, it's your job to get open. If you're not, then I'm going on to the next guy. I'm going to stick to those progressions and have faith that if you're the first read you're going to get open for us."