No, nothing is happening at the top, where Eli Manning -- sporadic and
erratic and all -- is the entrenched starter. But it's the identity of the backup
that is now seriously under question, and the new name is Jared Lorenzen.
Right, the bulky, overweight free agent of three years ago who never even
reported for his first season. And why should he have reported? He checked in at
315 pounds, and he knew that was way too high.
"I had to go home to take care of personal problems," he said the next
spring, when he showed up for minicamp. Yep, he had to lose weight.
Well, now he's 6-4 and 289, and both he and head coach Tom Coughlin are
convinced that's his best weight. "I am a big guy," he says. "I know it's a lot of
weight but I can handle it."
Coughlin agrees, and has been overly impressed with Lorenzen's work ethic as
well as his practice and in-game performance. The kid who was second team
All-SEC at Kentucky when Manning was first team All-SEC at Ole Miss seems to have
unseated Tim Hasselbeck as the backup -- which resulted in sending Rob Johnson
home after a comeback attempt that followed two years of listening to the sound
of his surgically repaired elbow heal.
The other night against the New York Jets, Lorenzen played most of the
entire second half. He did well. He completed seven of 12 passes for 60 yards. He
made some good throws, and according to Coughlin made some "good decisions."
The Hefty Lefty was happy. "I made a lot of positive plays," he said after
the game. "There are still some negative plays that I need to correct but a lot
of positive plays is more important. And we did it against a really good
defense and a really physical team, so I'm happy with it."
One of the "negative plays" was a sure touchdown pass to rookie tight end
Darcy Johnson in the third quarter. He was open, Lorenzen had the blocking, but
he just threw the ball six inches too strong. "More than you will ever know," he
said, "I am ticked off at myself for that pass. I lost (sight of) the safety
for a second, so I just wanted to make sure I got it off in a hurry. There is no
excuse. I just flat out missed him."
But the good thing is that it appears he'll get many more such
opportunities. "When he's had the chance, he has done pretty well," said Coughlin. "I'll
reserve judgment until I see the tapes but I think he did well. I know he made
some plays, and he completed one pass with a guy right in his face. That gets your attention."