While the Giants were practicing Wednesday, Eli Manning was in the otherwise empty locker room making some drops, testing the range of motion in his right foot and being fitted for orthotics in his shoe. So even though he wasn't on the field with his teammates, he was preparing for Sunday's game nonetheless.
No firm decision has been made about Manning's availability when the Giants host the Raiders - Tom Coughlin said it could be a game-day decision - but from the looks and sounds of things it certainly appears he is on course to play. He left the game against the Chiefs last weekend in the fourth quarter after injuring the plantar fascia in his right foot and has been receiving nearly constant treatment, including wearing a device on the foot while he sleeps.
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"I'm happy with the progress," Manning said. "I'm happy that it is improving, that I'm walking around better, that I'm having less pain. So that's all good stuff. We'll just see how it feels tomorrow and go from there."
Perhaps the most telling sign of optimism was Coughlin's assertion that the game plan would not be altered this week if backup David Carr had to start. Carr has different skills than Manning, and if the Giants were convinced Carr would have to play, they undoubtedly would be tweaking their strategy.
Still, Manning was loathe to go Joe Willie on the injury and guarantee that he'll play Sunday.
"There's never a guarantee," he said. "Just take it day by day and see if it gets better. It has been improving every day, so hopefully it will continue to do that."
It was the first time since early in the 2007 season that the Giants have practiced without Manning on the field. He hinted he probably could have endured the pain Wednesday, but said that doing so would have tripped up his mojo.
"I feel like I've been practicing well, I've been playing good football, I've been kind of in a rhythm these last couple of weeks," he said. "You don't want to go out there when you're injured and you can't do everything you want to do and all of a sudden you get bad habits, bad mechanics, you're throwing the ball different and you get out of your rhythm a little bit. It's probably best just to rest it, make sure when I do get out there that I'm ready to go and I'm ready to do everything."
Manning said his goal earlier in the week was to practice Wednesday. Now his goal is to practice Thursday. Ultimately, the goal is to play Sunday. But it's not a decision entirely up to him.
"It's not only how good he feels, but the doctors have to go along and tell us what they think he can do, if anything, that day," Coughlin said. "He's anxious. He wants to go out there and practice. He wants to take some snaps. But this is the smarter move."
Notes & quotes: TE Kevin Boss (ankle) was out of the protective boot he wore earlier this week. Still, Boss did not practice. "I'm seeing some improvements," he said . . . Struggling Lawrence Tynes said he noticed he's been planting his left foot about 6 inches farther from the ball than he was the past two years. He said he felt comfortable kicking with that correction Wednesday . . . LB Michael Boley, who had surgery this week for a torn meniscus, said he didn't remember injuring his knee Sunday and didn't notice anything when he watched the game on tape. "It's one of those things where you're like, 'Wow, what happened?' " he said. "Coming out of the game, I felt great."