The wide receiver tandem of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have dominated the New York Giants offseason headlines, but with both back in flow at Giants’ training camp, quarterback Eli Manning is a happy camper.
“I think both guys have done well," noted Eli. “Hakeem made some great snags the first day. Coming out of breaks well. Victor started off right where he left off. Making good decisions. I’ve been pleased with our receivers so far, but we have to keep that same pace.”
Nicks tweaked his groin during practice Saturday and has been limited in his participation. Snake-bitten by injuries the past few seasons, the Giants’ top wideout has battled through his fair share of setbacks and his quarterback understands the team taking a cautious approach.
“You know Hakeem is just being smart,” mentioned Manning. “He’s been coming off some injuries. He’s going to take it slow. He’s going to do what he’s got to do to make sure when he’s out there he’s full speed. He’s prepared for these preseason games coming in healthy. He has been limited in some practices during the spring, but we want to make sure he goes at his own pace to stay healthy for the upcoming year.”
With Cruz and Nicks solidifying the top of the Giants’ wide receiver depth chart and second year player Rueben Randle likely to fill the No. 3 spot, jobs are up for grabs on the 53 man roster. With Jerrel Jernigan, Louis Murphy, Kevin Hardy, Keith Adams and Brandon Collins battling it out during camp, Manning is trying to get on the same page with the entire receiving unit from top to bottom.
“I think the biggest thing for these young guys is knowing your assignments,” admitted Manning. “Make sure they know what they’re doing. What their route is, what their whole route is sometimes. How to get someone else open by doing the right thing. They really have to concentrate and study hard and understand what their routes is based on the coverages.”
On Saturday, general manager Jerry Reese set the tone for the season by declaring he plans to install a countdown clock at the Giants' Quest Diagnostics Performance Center as a constant reminder of the organization’s goal for 2013. While Manning and company don’t admit to feeling any added pressure from this motivational tactic, the two-time Super Bowl MVP understands that becoming a champion is a long process.
“I think each year, the goal at the end of the year is always to play in a Super Bowl and win a Super Bowl,” said Manning. “It’s good to have those long term goals, but you also have to make those short term goals as well.
"So you know it’s kind of good to have it there as a reminder, but we also have to worry about this next practice, these preseason games and handle our business and doing everything well to make sure we get in the playoffs and make a run.”