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With Daniel Jones in training camp, Eli Manning reminded of his first summer with Giants

Giants quarterbacks Eli Manning, left, and Daniel Jones

Giants quarterbacks Eli Manning, left, and Daniel Jones talk during OTAs at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on May 28. Credit: Brad Penner

Eli Manning and Daniel Jones are at the opposite ends of their career arcs. But their being in training camp together – the veteran quarterback for his franchise-record 16th time, the rookie for his first – brought back memories for Manning as he recalled his inaugural summer with the Giants.

“I think my rookie year my goal was to come in and earn the respect of your teammates, I think that’s very important, that was my mindset as a high draft pick and quarterback,” Manning said on Wednesday. “When you have Tiki [Barber] and Michael Strahan and also just veteran receivers in Ike Hilliard and Amani Toomer, guys who have been in Super Bowls and been to Pro Bowls, it takes a while before you can tell them, ‘Hey I think you have to run this route a little deeper.’ I didn’t know exactly what their route was, exact distances, or I thought I did but you have to get hit a few times, you have to work hard, you have to make plays, you have to earn the respect that you are putting in the effort, you are putting in the work and the same commitment they have been doing the last 10 years before you can talk to them. That was the mindset.”

These days it’s Manning who is the most respected and accomplished player on the team and Jones who has to prove himself to not just Manning and the coaches, but his teammates. There are players on the field, important players for the Giants such as Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley, who, when their careers are over, might find that they have played more seasons and games – and maybe even found more success – with Jones as their quarterback than Manning.

His first impression on them has been a positive one… even if the starters haven’t had much opportunity to work closely with Jones yet.

“He hasn’t really run with the ones,” Shepard said, “but just from what I’ve seen, he’s a very polished quarterback and a smart guy. He’s going to be great for us.”

As for following in Manning’s footsteps, Jones seems to be stride-for-stride with the two-time Super Bowl MVP. That’s why the two of them are together on the same roster, after all, so that Manning can guide Jones through this early phase of his career, show him the ropes, teach him how to be a pro (and a pro in New York), and then eventually hand the starting quarterback job over to him, be it this season, next, or potentially further down the line.

For Jones now, as Manning learned himself in 2004, it’s not about imposing himself as a young leader but becoming worthy of the role.

“I think Daniel has done a good job of that,” Manning said. “Kind of head down, work hard, do everything you are told to do and try to earn the respect of your teammates.” 

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