Giants rely on Manning's durability vs Washington
Dec. 12, 2014
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Despite a record of 4-9, the New York Giants never had to juggle their quarterbacks. Eli Manning, who will make his 165th consecutive start on Sunday despite a sore back, gives them continuity.
Manning and the Giants host the Washington Redskins, a 3-10 team sunk by what coach Jay Gruden recently termed a "merry-go-round" of quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins.
Tom Coughlin hasn't faced that problem thanks to Manning.
"When you have a guy that's been on the field for 165 games and he brings the knowledge from one game to the next to the next game," Coughlin said, "he's pretty much on the same page with you right away because you might have done it before somewhere along the line. This year is a little different, but really not a stretch."
Manning has made good progress after landing on the injury report with a bad back following last week's 36-7 win against Tennessee. He returned Friday to full practice after limited work the previous two days.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said Manning made all the throws during one-on-one drills.
"He looked good," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I wouldn't want to face him."
Manning entered the season with the fourth-longest active starting streak at any position. Although the rewards have been few this year after Super Bowl titles in 2007 and 2011, backups David Carr, Curtis Painter, and Ryan Nassib have remained on the sideline. Manning has taken all the successes and failures upon himself.
"I want to be there for my teammates," Manning said. "We have a lot of guys who are banged up and hurting, and they are practicing, they are playing on Sundays, and I want to do the same for them always. You definitely want to be there for your teammates to show you're committed and you're doing whatever you can to be out there on the field for them."
One of Manning's more convincing performances this year came against the Redskins in Week 4, a 45-14 win in which Manning completed 18 of his first 20 passes in a four-touchdown, 300-yard day.
Cousins, a third-year player like Griffin and McCoy, started that game for Washington and threw four interceptions. He started with Griffin, who just two years ago was the league's most electrifying quarterback. Griffin injured his ankle in Game 2 against Houston, and Cousins came on in the second half. Cousins started the next five games, only to be pulled in the third quarter of Game 7 against Tennessee to watch McCoy spark the offense to a 19-17 victory.
McCoy and Griffin have since started two games each. McCoy is listed as questionable with a neck injury, but he took full practice Friday and will likely start his third straight game.
"It is quite the merry-go-round here," Gruden said. "You want to have stability at that position, you really do. But you also want one of those quarterbacks to step in and take control."
The Redskins, despite the presence of fast wide receiver LeSean Jackson and running back Alfred Morris, never found an offensive identity.
"It's hard. It's hard," Gruden said. "You have uncertainty at quarterback and what you want to do. You have quarterbacks who are young. The important thing moving forward is to get these guys comfortable, get them in a rhythm, and keep them out of dang third down and nine, 10, 12, which we've had too many."
Giants running back Rashad Jennings is impressed by Manning's steadiness.
"You're talking about consistency, especially at the quarterback position," Jennings said. "It's something you want, obviously, as a teammate and organization. To see his durability and his consistency of command in the huddle, it makes a difference."
NOTES: Coughlin sounded pessimistic about LB Jacquian Williams playing again this season after being ruled out of his fourth straight game with on-going concussion symptoms. "We'll see. It's been quite a process. He's really not even ready to practice right now," Coughlin said. ...LB Mark Herzlich (concussion) and LB Jameel McClain (knee) returned to full practice and were listed as probable.