Manning enjoys working with young players at football camps
UNION, N.J. (AP) If you want to get an insight into what makes Eli Manning tick, watch the two-time Super Bowl MVP work with kids at a summer football camp.
Talking about football to three or four dozen attentive young players is something the New York Giants quarterback enjoys, whether the topic is hydration, catching passes, doing things in practice so they become second nature in games, focusing or simply just getting better.
Manning doesn’t talk very long. He gets his thoughts across and gets to the stuff he wants to do. He gets a ball from the coaches at the Offense-Defense camp at Kean University and starts throwing little seam routes to players.
After a water break, there is a 7-on-7 drill and Manning hooks up with a receiver deep for a touchdown that will be someone’s lifetime memory.
”It’s fun to see them get ready for their upcoming season,” the 37-year-old Manning said. ”They are out here practicing trying to get better and it’s fun. Hey, I was that kid not too long ago. You kind of still feel you are that kid in the sense of getting ready to go play a game and play football and improve.
”For these guys it’s not about going to college. It’s about being a good high school player. Hey, I want to be a good NFL player. It’s whatever league you are in.”
By Manning’s count, he will be starting his 23rd training camp when the Giants report for workouts in roughly two weeks. It will be his 15th season with New York, and this one should be interesting.
The Giants have a new coach in Pat Shurmur, a new offense and defense and a revamped roster.
Manning knows there are going to be a lot of questions. Can the team overcome last year’s 3-13 record that led to the firing of Ben McAdoo and the hiring of Shurmur? Can they get back to the playoffs? Can he still function being closer to 40 than 30?
They are legitimate questions, but Manning is more concerned with today.
”I am not concerned with two years or how long I play, I am concerned about this year,” Manning said.
”I am focused and excited about having a great year this year, making good decisions, running this offense, getting our team ready. That’s the focus. That’s the concern. That’s all. I am excited about it. It’s good when you are not worried about the hoopla and all the other things going on. I am worried about doing my job and winning football games.”
Manning has been getting ready for this camp like any other. Training has become a year-round job and the techniques are different.
When he was a youngster in New Orleans, hydrating meant going for a swim and drinking a soda. Now, the hydration starts a week before camp begins. Liquid is taken before, during and after practice, something that he imparts to the players as a spokesman for Gatorade the past 14 years.
Still, he insists training camp is fun, especially the competition.
”That’s the great thing about football,” Manning said. ”What you did last year doesn’t matter, whether good or bad. It’s all about what you can do this year. I am excited about the guys we have, the new coaches. I have been texting with the guys and everyone is excited to get rolling and see what we can do this year.”
The new offense should be interesting. The line seemingly has been solidified with the addition of left tackle Nate Solder and guard Will Hernandez, the second-round draft pick. Running back Saquon Barkley, the second overall pick, has the potential to be a game breaker.
Receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who is coming off a broken ankle that ended his season in early October, has looked good in some videos from California, where he has been running around shirtless with fellow wide out Sterling Shepard and Barkley making one-handed catches.
”I know they will have to make some adjustments. We do practice with our shirts on with the Giants,” Manning quipped.
Manning said the Giants worked hard in the offseason and he is excited to see what happens this year.
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