The training camp drills are over, the preseason games have been completed and the roster has been trimmed. It’s time to move on to the regular season.
And for the Giants, that means their regular quarterback.
Eli Manning may have felt like an afterthought for most of the past few months as attention was paid to rookie Daniel Jones’ development, but now that the focus is sharpening toward Sunday’s kickoff against the Cowboys, Manning again will be in the spotlight.
This was always the plan for the Giants, to have the 38-year-old as the starting quarterback for the first snap of his 16th season when they take the field in Dallas. Some may have gotten distracted by others, but the Giants never wavered on their chosen course. Now it will come to fruition.
“I think he’s had an outstanding offseason,” Pat Shurmur said of Manning. “It started by what he did by himself before the OTA offseason program started. I think he’s had, in my mind, an outstanding camp from the practice settings. He’s executed well in the time that he’s been in the game. He’s certainly a guy that’s got a lot of experience, and when I look at him, I just see a guy that’s much more comfortable in the system for the second year in a row, and I’m looking forward to him having a really good year.”
Manning played only three offensive series in the preseason. It was the least live-action preparation he has ever received in his career. He never lined up with Saquon Barkley behind him, never looked over and saw Sterling Shepard ready to run a route. He and Evan Engram were on the field together for only a handful of snaps.
In practices, though, the Giants’ starting group has spent plenty of time working as a unit.
“I’ve definitely seen a lot of improvement with Eli,” Engram said of their second season together in the offense. “Each camp I’ve had with him, he’s done really well and worked really hard, but for this camp, it felt a little different. There’s more confidence, you could tell he’s more comfortable within the pocket, and he’s been slinging the ball around all camp and hasn’t slowed down. I’m very excited to get on the roll with Eli.
“The things I’ve seen and the things we are talking about as an offense and the things we are working toward, we’re kind of adding things to the system and putting guys in the right spots and trying our best to make him successful. I’m really excited about it. I can’t wait to get the first snap going.”
Manning will be the quarterback for it, just as he has been for 230 of the last 231 Giants regular season games. Just as he has been for every game the Giants have played at AT&T Stadium. Just as he was for two Super Bowl victories. Just as he was for five of the last six seasons when the Giants finished with a losing record.
How will this first game end? How will this season end? We can speculate and predict, but no one knows for certain.
How will it start? That’s an easy one.
With Eli Manning at quarterback.