Expect to see a little less of Eli Manning this summer.
Giants general manager Jerry Reese said the team has plans to reduce the number of reps taken by some of the older players this year, not just in training camp but during practices in the regular season as well. That group likely will include players such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Marshall and Jonathan Casillas, all thirty-something Giants. But when they talk about older guys on the team, the focus shifts immediately to the 36-year-old quarterback.
“It’s just common sense,” Reese said Thursday as training camp opened. “You have to really take care of guys when they get up in age. There are a few guys on the squad that Coach McAdoo and our staff, we’ve talked about, OK, let’s make sure these guys get to the game, get to the season. You’ve got to protect them in some ways and [Manning] is one of those guys we want to protect along with a few more older guys on the squad.
“You can call it a pitch count,” Reese said of Manning’s leash. “That’s a good way to frame it if you like.”
It’s not all that uncommon. Reese pointed out that there was a time when Tony Romo of the Cowboys would not practice one day a week, usually on Wednesdays. Of course, Romo could barely walk at times because of injuries that ultimately forced his retirement and he was chronically wounded. Manning has never missed a game in 13 years.
This isn’t the first season the Giants are going to rein Manning in. Last summer he did not appear in two of the four preseason games.
“We’ve taken a few snaps from him over the last couple of years,” Reese said. “You don’t have to take every snap. He likes to take every snap, but he doesn’t have to take every snap.”
Reese’s public noting of the “pitch count” for Manning is just the latest verbal concession the Giants have made regarding Manning’s age. At the end of the 2016 season, Reese said Manning is “on the back nine of his career.” Then the team went out and drafted Davis Webb, a potential eventual replacement in the third round.
And that doesn’t even count Ben McAdoo’s speech to the veteran players on Thursday in which he told them the R-rated, real-life tale of Frasier the Lion, a worn-down animal who regained his King of the Forest mantle with the lady cats in the 1970s (Google that one yourself).
Reese did not say how much Manning will be limited. That’s up to McAdoo, he said. He also said the Giants will rely on analytics and the data they collect from the players at practices. Some of it, though, will just be feel.
“We want to make sure that he is fresh going into the games and going late into the year and hopefully going into the playoffs,” Reese said of Manning. “We want him to be fresh and ready to go.”