Cody Latimer is one of the few receivers who can compare Eli Manning with his brother Peyton Manning based on firsthand knowledge. Only two other players in NFL history can say they have caught a regular-season pass from the two quarterbacks – Jim Finn and Brandon Stokley – and if Latimer hauls in a completion during his first season with the Giants he’ll become the third.
“They’re total opposites but they’re both smart and they’re both great quarterbacks,” said Latimer, who played in Denver and was on the Super Bowl 50-winning team led by Peyton. “One is quiet and the other isn’t, but they’re both great to work with. Very smart…They’re just smarter than everybody. They do all the extra film work, knowing where people are going to be, knowing the defenses.”
Now, having spent time with both of them, Latimer knows that they can compare notes on him as well. That’s why when he first came to the Giants he went up to his new quarterback and made him a promise.
“We were out there, me and him, throwing and going through our stuff, and I told him that I’m going to do what I didn’t do for his brother,” Latimer said. “Do all the extra. All the extra film, always out after practice. Show my growth as a pro. Stuff I already knew to do [in Denver] but I just didn’t.”
That, Latimer said, is one of the reasons why his career never reached its potential with the Broncos. The second-round pick — Denver even traded up to get him — finished his four seasons there with just 35 receptions for 445 yards. He scored three touchdowns, two of them last season, and didn’t have a single reception of 20 yards or more in his first three seasons.
He came to the Giants this offseason with a new approach, he said. Almost as a new player. Certainly one he hopes that Peyton wouldn’t recognize. And he owes it all to his son, Jacoby, who is now two years old and has been watching Giants training camp from the family section.
“I have to do it for him,” Latimer said. “I don’t want him to see his dad be a failure. Young, dumb, hard-headed back in the day, wasn’t really focused on football. [Fatherhood] was what made me focus on life and seeing it from a different perspective. I don’t want him to see his dad have all this talent but know that he never used it to the best of his ability.”
The Giants are certainly hoping to use that talent. Before he was sidelined the past two practices with a mild quad injury, Latimer was running reps with the first unit. It seemed as if he, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard were slated to be the team’s top three receivers in an offense that is brimming with targets.
Latimer gives the Giants size; at 6-2 he’s one of the tallest receiver on the roster. His newfound attitude is also apparent.
“When he’s out there he’s definitely going to give it all he’s got,” Shepard said. “Great route runner to be that big, snatches the ball out the air, so I think he’s going to be great for us.”
Latimer said he’s excited about the opportunity he has with the Giants. He said he’s already seen the payoff this summer from the increased hours of study and preparation that he put in this spring during OTAs and minicamp.
“In Denver I never really got my chance, I was behind [Demaryius Thomas] and [Emmanuel Sanders] and I never really got my shot,” he said. “Coming here, that they’re giving me this shot, words can’t describe how I feel about it. I never had the opportunity. I’ve been waiting for it. It’s been a long time coming.”
Now that it’s here, and he gets to play with his second Manning, Latimer wants to make sure he gives more to Eli than he did to Peyton.