So as the Giants begin their official preparations for their "Monday Night Football" opener in Detroit, Manning is focusing on the things the Giants' offense did well in the preseason, and choosing to build on those.
Manning has, throughout the summer, painted a picture of an offense that is almost there. He also said last week that he expected this new offense, under first-year coordinator Ben McAdoo, to remain a work in progress throughout at least part of the season. The trick will be finding ways to win games while everyone is still getting fully up to speed.
"The big thing happening in the preseason, the reason we won a couple of games, is because we didn't beat ourselves," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "If you look at the numbers, you can see that. So that is something we can hang our hat on, regardless of what the statistics are."
You can start to imagine a plan in which the Giants get things started this season with a run-heavy offensive game plan whose emphasis is on limiting turnovers, then build a passing game off of that as the season goes along. Not that they would admit to something like that, but it might make sense since they feel good about their defense and the ability of their offensive line to at least block the run.
"I have been practicing and I know exactly what we are capable of," wide receiver Victor Cruz said, when asked his reasons for optimism. "I know all of the things we've implemented that are beneficial to us and can benefit us on game day, and I'm excited to put that to the test come Monday Night."
That is when we will start finding out just what the Giants believe they're able to do with their offense right now, and maybe what they might have to wait until later in the season to try.
Coughlin said the plan for Beason is to practice a set number of plays in the three practices the Giants have later this week -- Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- and then to determine based on that how much he will be able to play Monday Night. Beason's hope is to start at middle linebacker, but the Giants are comfortable if they have to use Jameel McClain in that spot and rookie Devon Kennard on the strong side, as they did during training camp and the preseason.
"We have great personalities, guys who can do a little bit of everything," Beason said of his fellow Giants linebackers. "I think it's a great room. I have tremendous confidence in everybody we have."
But having Beason on the field makes a difference, as players who were on the team in 2013 were quick to point out. The Giants were without an answer at middle linebacker until they traded for Beason early in the 2013 season, and they credit him for much of the turnaround their defense made following the team's 0-6 start.
"It's good to see him back," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "He's a hell of a player. He came out last year when we needed him and did a great job, and it was tough to see him go down with an injury. Having him back makes our defense better."
The fact that Beason was cleared to come off the PUP list and resume practicing this week indicates that he will be at full strength sooner rather than later. Even if he's not able to handle a full starter's workload in Week 1, he will be able to make some sort of contribution, and it shouldn't be long before he is back doing what he did for the Giants last season.
"I just went out there in camp trying to make some plays, stand out and try not to do anything bad, because I'm an undrafted rookie," Wynn said Monday. "I ask a lot of questions and just make sure I'm staying up with everybody else."
He and Damontre Moore shared the team lead with seven quarterback hurries in the preseason, and Pro Football Focus gave Wynn a +1.4 grade as a run-stopper, which ranked him 22nd among 4-3 defensive ends in the preseason.
"He has very good size and he runs well," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of the 6-foot-5, 264-pound Wynn. "He's a young prospect who works hard and studies hard. We think he has a lot of upside."
Wynn said he spent Saturday in his hotel room with his mother, watching the clock nervously and hoping no one would call to tell him he'd been cut. Shortly after 4 p.m. ET, the deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 53, he called his agent, who confirmed for him he had made the final cut. Then he got back to studying and preparing for this week of practice heading into the regular season.
"Pass rush, play the run, play special teams, whatever they need me to do, I'm going to do it," Wynn said. "Just saying 'Yes, sir' and putting my best foot forward."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants first-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. still isn't practicing, certainly won't be ready to play in the regular-season opener next Monday night at Detroit and could be two or three weeks away from returning from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him since the start of training camp.
All of this according to coach Tom Coughlin, who felt the need to meet with his rookie wide receiver Sunday to remind him not to rush back and risk further injury just because of external pressure.
"Let's just let this kid get better," Coughlin said after practice Monday. "I went to him yesterday to say, 'Let's just not have any more setbacks.' Because it's every day the same question over and over. He's not ready to play. He may be a couple or three weeks away. I'll let you know when he's ready."
Beckham said he's frustrated at not being able to play but that he appreciated Coughlin's message and support.
"It just makes me more comfortable to know, 'Make sure you get right. Take your time,'" Beckham said. "Hurting yourself is really hurting the team, so I've just got to try to get better every day. It's great to have the feeling of Coach having your back."
Beckham missed the team's June minicamp with a hamstring injury and aggravated it in the team's first practice of training camp July 22. He returned to practice on a limited basis a couple of weeks later but injured it again and hasn't practiced on the field with the rest of the team since Aug. 18.
He said he's mystified as to why it's taken so long to heal.
"Just kept re-aggravating it," Beckham said. "Right now I'm just taking it day by day. I don't set any limits on myself."
At this point, with only three more practices left before next Monday night's regular-season opener in Detroit, it's hard to imagine Beckham playing in Week 1. It's not impossible to think he could practice in full Thursday, Friday and Saturday and be cleared to play, but it's not likely Tom Coughlin and the Giants' coaching staff would deem three practices enough to put a rookie wide receiver on the field for a game that counts.
Beason has been hoping since he injured his foot in OTAs to play in Week 1, and barring a setback this week it appears he will. The Giants likely will evaluate Beason as the week goes on and determine how much he'll be able to play in the opener. If he has to take a reduced workload, they are confident with Jameel McClain filling in for him at middle linebacker and Devon Kennard starting on the strong side in McClain's place.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) and offensive linemen James Brewer (back) and Charles Brown (shoulder) all appeared to be back and practicing in full. Guard Brandon Mosley (back) was working on the side with trainers, which means John Jerry is likely to start at right guard in the opener.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal lists quarterback Blake Bortles among the players who earned honorable mention honors for the website's Preseason MVP award. New York Giants receiver Corey Washington scored the game-wining touchdown in all four preseason games.
The New England Patriots traded backup quarterback Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans. NFL Nation Patriots reporter Mike Reiss breaks down the trade mainly from the New England perspective, but also from the Texans' viewpoint as well.
The Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon writes that the Jaguars are seeking more improvement on special teams.
The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars have the second-youngest roster in the NFL.
Of the seven players signed, six were released by the Giants in Saturday's cut-down to 53 players. The seventh, offensive tackle Nick Becton, was waived Tuesday by the San Diego Chargers.
Here are the seven players on the Giants' practice squad so far:
RB Michael Cox
CB Bennett Jackson
CB Chandler Fenner
LB Dan Fox
DE Jordan Stanton
WR Julian Talley
OT Nick Becton
Obviously, that leaves three spots still to fill. The Giants were interested in signing defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles to the practice squad after waiving him Saturday, but he was claimed off waivers by the New England Patriots.
Nassib will be backup: The Giants wanted 2013 fourth-round pick Ryan Nassib to win the No. 2 quarterback spot in camp, and he did, as they released 2013 backup Curtis Painter and will enter the season with only Nassib behind starter Eli Manning. Nassib played very well in the second halves of the Giants' preseason games. His accuracy remains inconsistent, but he showed good comfort and command of the offense when he was in games.
Beason back: Among the Giants' moves Saturday was the activation of middle linebacker Jon Beason from the PUP list. Beason missed all of training camp with a foot injury but is expected to practice Monday and could see some snaps in the regular-season opener Sept. 8 in Detroit.
What's next: With Kellen Davis cut and only three unproven tight ends left on the roster, the Giants are likely to take a look at tight ends who were cut elsewhere. They also could look for help at tackle as they churn the bottom of their roster in the coming days.
Giants moves: QB Curtis Painter, RB Michael Cox, DT Kelcy Quarles, DE Israel Idonije, CB Bennett Jackson, WR Julian Talley, LB Dan Fox, RB Kendall Gaskins, FB John Conner, OL Jamaal Johnson-Webb, TE Kellen Davis, DE Jordan Stanton, OL Adam Gress, CB Chandler Fenner, S Thomas Gordon, OL Rogers Gaines, OL Mark Asper, LB Terrell Manning, OL Eric Herman (reserve/suspended), CB Jayron Hosley (reserve/suspended), WR Mario Manningham (injured reserve), KR/PR Trindon Holliday (injured reserve).
The New York Giants placed wide receiver Mario Manningham and kick return specialist Trindon Holliday on season-ending injured reserve Saturday, the team announced. Manningham strained a calf muscle in Thursday's preseason finale, and Holliday struggled with a hamstring injury throughout training camp.
There was no point during August at which either player appeared likely to make the team. But back in March, when the Giants were averaging a free-agent signing per day, the team envisioned significant roles for both.
The Giants will get back the services of Jon Beason, however, as the linebacker was activated from the PUP list.
Manningham, whose brilliant sideline catch in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots will live as an all-time great Giants moment, never appeared fully over the knee problems that have hounded him for the past couple of seasons. The Giants needed to see a big game from him Thursday in order to put him on the team, and he was injured and out of the game after just four plays. After playing just 18 games over the past two seasons and now missing all of 2014, there's a chance Manningham's career could be over at 28.
Holliday was signed to help the Giants' return game, specifically punt returns but also to help Quintin Demps
@DanGrazianoESPN: In theory, sure, but therein lies the problem. It's not as though the New York Giants have Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin sitting on the bench. If you bump Rueben Randle down the depth chart, who takes his place? The Giants' ideal plan at wide receiver is to start Victor Cruz in the slot with Randle and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. on the outside. But Beckham hasn't been able to practice because of a hamstring injury and they've been using miscast slot receiver Jerrel Jernigan on the outside in his place. As good as Corey Washington looked in the fourth quarters of preseason games, there's little to indicate he's a better option right now in real games than Randle is. They don't have a lot of options at wide receiver right now, which means they really need Randle to perform to his draft position if the offense is going to work.
@DanGrazianoESPN: Yeah, this is a key thing to remember here. All of this talk about Randle and Eli Manning "not being on the same page" is all about Randle, not about Manning. One of these guys has a 10-year track record of NFL success. The other has a two-year track record as an underachiever who doesn't know which route he's supposed to run. It's on Randle to figure out what he's supposed to be doing out there from play to play. I'm not absolving Manning of responsibility for what went wrong last year and how bad they looked this preseason, but by now it's pretty clear that the main problem is the group around him. Manning's not the type of quarterback who's going to elevate the substandard talent around him to quality-contender status. He's shown he can elevate good talent to a championship level over a period of a few weeks or months. But if the players around him at wide receiver, tight end and on the offensive line aren't of NFL-contender quality, I don't think he's going to be able to overcome that. Randle has to develop into a dependable, NFL-quality route-runner. Many others have since Manning has been here, and if Randle doesn't, it's on Randle.
@DanGrazianoESPN: I think the Giants could have a good defense this year. But if they turn out to be a truly bad offensive team, as they were last year, I don't think they're going to have the type of dominant defense they'd need to overcome that. I still think there are questions up front. A big season from Jason Pierre-Paul could help answer those, but it would be a big leap for this pass rush to go from where it was last year to one of the better ones in the league. And if it isn't, I don't think the work they did in the secondary is automatically going to fix everything. The secondary looks good on paper, but I think it's a mistake to assume Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the lock-down cornerback they're expecting him to be for all 16 games. He's got the talent to be that kind of player, but he's been inconsistent throughout his career. Again, good defense, but not a carry-a-lousy-offense-to-the-playoffs defense. The offense is going to have to do its part.
Can the Giants defense keep them competitive enough to make the playoffs ? #nygmail— Blai (@BlaiGuy) August 29, 2014
@DanGrazianoESPN: I dispute your premise, as I doubt that Ben McAdoo's offense requires a mobile quarterback to operate. I also think Manning moves in the pocket well enough to do what they're asking him to do in terms of timing and footwork, and I don't think that's behind whatever issues have arisen during the preseason. For me, this boils down very simply to personnel, and I think the Giants' offensive personnel around Manning is substandard. Guys such as Randle, Beckham, Will Beatty and the tight ends are going to have to outperform expectations in order for this offense to do better than it did in the preseason. It's not the scheme, it's the players. We will see whether they handle their business better once the lights go on than they have so far. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday. I'll be back later with the final cuts.
Coughlin said it's possible they could or should have stressed the passing game more in the preseason, and he said he expects things will look better "once we zoom in on an all-encompassing game plan."
Other notes from Coughlin's day-after conference call:
- He said the timetable on guard Geoff Schwartz's recovery from toe injury is likely to be a bit longer than 3-to-4 weeks. He didn't rule out placing Schwartz on short-term injured reserve, which would keep him out for the first eight weeks of the season, but it sounds as though they hope they don't have to do that.
- Coughlin said middle linebacker Jon Beason should be cleared to practice Monday. That likely makes Beason available for the regular-season opener Sept. 8 in Detroit, though it remains to be seen how much he'll be able to play after missing all of training camp with a foot injury.
- Fullback Henry Hynoski has a "contusion" of his shoulder and felt better Friday than he did after leaving the game Thursday. Sounds as though they have avoided a major problem with Hynoski.
- Wide receiver Mario Manningham has a strained calf. This likely means the end for Manningham with the Giants, though Coughlin wasn't giving anything away about final decisions on that or any other aspect of the final roster cuts due Saturday.
The Giants will practice four more times before their Sept. 8 "Monday Night Football" opener against the Lions in Detroit. They don't have much time to be a work in progress if they want to avoid losing games in September.
"Don't get me wrong. We're ready for Week 1," Manning insisted. "But as a season goes on, you're always looking to improve. You don't want to alarm people and say, 'We've got to get better.' That's just part of it. We're going to keep getting better, but we still can go out there and be successful and do the things to win games but still strive to make improvements on offense."
Manning pointed to some positives he said he saw in the preseason, including a relative lack of turnovers and the fact that they won all five of their games. He said new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who's calling plays for the first time in his career, has been "decisive" with it and the process has been smooth, and he's looking forward to a real regular-season week of game-planning for the Lions. His hope and belief is that everything will look better now that the games count.
In other Giants news:
- Cornerback Prince Amukamara said he's fully healed from his groin injury and expects to practice next week without restriction. Amukamara said he could have played Thursday night if it had been a real game.
- Guard Geoff Schwartz is a candidate for the short-term injured reserve list, which would cost him the first eight weeks of the season. Schwartz said Friday that he hoped to be back sooner than that, and that the team hadn't broached the topic with him. In order to use the short-term IR designation on Schwartz, the Giants would have to put him on their 53-man roster Saturday and then designate him for IR early next week. So unless they believe he'll be out for the whole season (which they do not) , the Giants will delay the decision on Schwartz.
- Kick return specialist Trindon Holliday, who has missed almost all of camp with a hamstring injury, said he believes he'll be ready to practice next week. The question is whether the Giants will put Holliday on the 53-man roster Saturday, or whether they'll cut him and look at other options. Holliday and Odell Beckham Jr., who also has missed all of camp with a hamstring injury, are the top two candidates at punt returner, so if the Giants believe they have a need there they could cut Holliday and keep someone like wide receiver Preston Parker for punt returns. But if they really believe Holliday is healthy enough to practice next week, they could keep him and use someone like Rueben Randle as the fallback on punt returns.
- Fullback Henry Hynoski (shoulder) and guard Eric Herman (leg) went for tests on their injuries from Thursday night. The team does not think Hynoski's injury is serious. They don't think Herman's is, either, but Herman is suspended for the first four games of the season for a drug violation anyway, so he has plenty of time to get healthy.