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Eli Manning: 3-4 Giants can make playoffs

Giants quarterback Eli Manning celebrates after completing a

Giants quarterback Eli Manning celebrates after completing a touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of a game, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. Photo Credit: AP / LM Otero

The Giants went through their usual routine Monday, the day after a game, which included a recovery stretch. It's a period of exercises meant to help players heal and get ready for what lies ahead. It's supposed to help the body.

Eli Manning wanted to make sure it helped the team's soul, too. So while the players were flexing and massaging, the quarterback took the opportunity to give an impromptu address to the offense before everyone parted for the bye week. His message?

" 'It's far from over,' '' tight end Larry Donnell told Newsday of Manning's pep talk. " 'Enjoy the break. Get your body right, get your mind right, come back and let's be ready to do this.' ''

The "this'' is save a season on the verge of sliding into despair for the third straight year. The Giants (3-4) have lost two straight, both to division opponents. They are three games out of first place with nine left.

"There is a ton of football,'' Manning told reporters. "If we handle our business and start winning games, we have a shot to be OK and in good shape.''

Manning wasn't alone in imploring the Giants to return from their break focused on fixing things. Jason Pierre-Paul talked with some teammates in a similar tone.

"I spoke to some guys [and said], 'Go ahead and do whatever you got to do on your bye weekend. Just get away from football and just focus on something else. And when we come back, it's time to turn it on.' ''

Manning, who has led two Super Bowl champions, said he thinks that even with the injuries that have befallen them, the Giants can make a playoff push.

"I think we have the talent, yes,'' he said. "Some of it is developing just because we have some new guys playing at positions . . . There are still some young aspects to it, but there is definitely talent there. When you get through the growing pains of these young guys, they're doing a lot of good things, there are just little mistakes that are keeping us from being very, very good.

"The more playing experience they get, the more practices, all of a sudden these young guys start making those plays and things start coming together. That's when we'll be at our best.''

He was talking about three rookies -- Odell Beckham Jr., Andre Williams and Weston Richburg -- who started the last two weeks. Beckham, who has caught three touchdown passes in three games, said his teammates have been telling him that he is no longer a rookie.

"They tell me each and every day, 'You're a vet now,' '' the first-round pick said. "I'm trying my best to step up and do whatever I can to help this team.''

The Giants will be getting reinforcements. Guard Geoff Schwartz was signed as the savior of the offensive line in the offseason. He'll get his chance when he comes off short-term injured reserve in time for the next game against the Colts on Nov. 3 (although Tom Coughlin said he has "a long way to go'' after being inactive since training camp). Starting running back Rashad Jennings, who missed the last two games with a sprained MCL, also seems on track for the Colts game. Asked about Jennings' availability for it, Coughlin said: "I'm full of hope.''

He probably was not talking only about his running back. When asked Monday if he anticipated a somewhat slow start to this season and a team that could pick up steam in the second half because of all of the offseason changes, Coughlin said: "I was hoping we'd be 7-0.''

They're not. But that doesn't mean they're finished.

"What do we have, nine more games to play? Let's win all nine games,'' Pierre-Paul said. "I think we can do it. We just got to believe. There's a lot of football to be played. Don't give up on us yet.''

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