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GM Reese says Giants have plan to keep vets fresh

Posted Jul 27, 2017

GM Jerry Reese met with the media Thursday at the start of Training Camp: 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jerry Reese said today that Eli Manning – the Giants’ 36-year-old quarterback who is entering his 14th season – and other veterans will have their workloads reduced in training camp.

“Eli has to take care of himself and get himself ready to play mentally and physically,” the Giants’ general manager said. “When guys get up in age, you have to take care of them. There are a few guys on the squad that coach (Ben) McAdoo and our staff, we’ve talked about, ‘Okay, let’s make sure these guys get to the game, get to the season.’ You’ve got to protect them in some ways. Each one of those guys you want to protect, along with a few more guys, older guys, you want to protect.”

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Reese was asked if Manning – who has thrown 7,225 regular-season and postseason passes, and thousands more in practice – will be on a pitch count.
 
“You can call it a pitch count,” he said. “You can frame it like that, you can frame it however you like. That’s a good way to frame it if you like.”

The Giants will practice for the first time tomorrow. Reese didn’t mention other veterans whose snaps the team would like to limit. But the candidates would likely include 12-year wide receiver Brandon Marshall, 10-year cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and eight-year defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

In 2016, Manning threw 598 regular-season passes – the third-highest total of his career, plus 44 in the NFC Wild Card Game in Green Bay. His three-highest pass attempt totals have come in the last three years, a total of 1,894. Manning’s passer rating last year was 86.0, the lowest it’s been since 2013.

Were the number of passes he threw an issue?

“I don’t know if that was an issue or not, but that is something that we have talked about,” Reese said. “We want to make sure that he is fresh in the games late in the year, and hopefully going into the playoffs. We want him to be fresh and ready to go.”

Reese was asked if Manning – who prefers to take the vast majority of snaps in practice – has pushed back on the notion of cutting back.

“All competitive players want to play,” Reese said. “They want to stay out there, they want to take every rep. But he is a smart guy, too, so that is between the coaching staff and him. That is up to the head coach to look out for the pitch count, if you want to call it that, but it will happen with a few players across our team.

“We have had some discussions about that. We’ve talked about that some and actually have taken some snaps away from him (Manning) over the last couple of years. He does not have to take every snap. He likes taking every snap, but he doesn’t have to.”

Reese said cutting back on Manning’s workload did not require an excessive amount of research.
   
“I think it is just common sense,” he said.” You see it all around the National Football League. I think (Tony) Romo, one year there was one day where he never practiced. I think it was on a Wednesday or something like that. You see it all over the league with older players; coaches give them some time off or some reps off. We have some older players at different positions that we want to have fresh going into the games and the latter part of this season and again hopefully the playoffs.”

*One year ago, the Giants were coming off their second consecutive 6-10 season and had a new head coach in McAdoo when Reese said during his annual news conference at the beginning of training camp, “I think we have a really good football team.”

The general manager proved to be correct. The Giants finished 11-5 and earned a postseason berth for the first time in five years.

Today, they opened camp with most of their significant contributors from a year ago returning, a roster bolstered by offseason additions, a coach with a season of experience in the head chair, and lingering motivation from the 25-point wild card playoff loss that ended their season in Green Bay.

So it was no surprise that the perpetually optimistic Reese said he was “excited” about the 2017 Giants when he held his annual meeting with reporters this afternoon.

“I’m an optimistic kind of guy,” said Reese, who is beginning his 11th season as the Giants’ general manager. “I always feel like our team, if we get some breaks to go our way, and we think that we have good coaches, we think that we have good players, we get a couple balls to bounce our way, a lot of good things can happen.

“We did win 11 games last year. We’re hoping to build off that, but it’s a whole new season. You’ve got to win one game at a time, one practice at a time, one day at a time, one game at a time. It has its own set of circumstances this season. Last year means nothing. The last 10 years mean nothing. This is a new year. New challenges and we’re excited about it.”

A decade ago, during his first camp news conference as G.M., Reese was asked questions about Michael Strahan, who was holding out. Since then, he’s discussed numerous subjects. Here’s a sampling of what he was asked about today:

*On a potential contract extension for Odell Beckham, Jr.:

“I’m not going to talk about contracts,” Reese said. “We’re going to keep all of our options open with respect to any contracts. Any contract questions, we’ll keep all of our options open with respect to that.”

*On the Giants’ offensive line:

“The thing that gives me optimism about the offensive line is they have a lot of snaps … under the belt,” Reese said. “(D.J.) Fluker came in, he has a lot of snaps and some more players on the roster who have a lot of snaps. But the five guys who started last year, they’ve got a lot of snaps under the belt right now. The two young kids (Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart), they’re still very young; we’ve talked about their age. But it’s time for them to step up to the plate and be good players, and I believe they will. All the offensive linemen are galvanized with respect to playing great. Everybody keeps saying that’s the weak link to the football team. They hear that. So you guys keep talking about it, keep motivating them and I’m sure you will. And I expect big things from them, I expect those guys to play well.”

*On linebacker J.T, Thomas, who tore his ACL in the 2016 season opener in Dallas and missed the remainder of the season:

“He’s taking a physical,” Reese said. “We’re trying to make a decision … right now (on whether he is cleared to practice).”

Thomas might start camp on the physically unable to perform list.

“Right now, he’s going to be here,” Reese said. “But we have to make some decisions on how he comes out of the physical.”