EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Competing for a job on an NFL team can be awkward. A player’s livelihood might be at stake, but he spends long hours each day with the man trying to take it from him. No matter how fierce the rivalry, friendships are inevitable.
The competition ended today, when McManus was traded to Denver before the Giants officially placed him on waivers. The Giants reduced their roster to the NFL limit of 75 players today. Brown will be the team’s kicker for a second season, beginning with the team’s preseason finale Thursday against New England. But a big part of him was sorry to see McManus leave.
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“You build a relationship as much as you may not even want to,” Brown said. “It is a bit awkward, but at the same time I told my wife, ‘He reminds me so much of me. I cannot pick on this kid.’ If I get him angry, he’s going to get that much better. So I became friends with him and I knew what he needed on the field. I could see what he was doing and if he wanted my advice, I gave it to him. I was very honest with him and upfront. I openly talked about the fact somebody was going to lose their job because it is what it is. You have to determine what you want and if you want to be the Giants kicker, you have to come out here and be the Giants kicker. That’s what I kept telling myself. This is my job, it’s mine and he’s going to have to take it from me.
“I’m still the Giants kicker, so I’m going to continue to do what I’ve been doing. I’m going to continue to work hard and continue to deliver so they feel they’re always in the right with me.”
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Brown had an excellent debut season with the Giants. He made 23 of 26 field goal attempts, a percentage of 88.5 that was the third-highest in Giants history (minimum 15 attempts). Brown also succeeded on all 31 of his extra point tries for 100 points, the eighth 100-point season in his 11-year career. From Oct. 21 to Dec. 29, Brown made a Giants-record 17 consecutive field goal attempts. The streak ended when he was wide left on a 50-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter in the season finale vs. Washington.
“(Brown) is veteran kicker,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “(McManus) and him were both very close. They both did a really good job. I think Brandon will kick in this league. He is a very powerful man. He needs to work on some of the finer kicks, but certainly demonstrated his ability to drive the ball through the end zone, which is a tremendous asset.”
“He’s a really good field goal kicker and it’s just the way the competition worked out with the numbers and the lack of field goal attempts in preseason games,” Brown said. “I’m sure that’s part of it. I had a good year last year, so I’m sure all of that plays into it.”
Did Brown benefit from being pushed by McManus?
“Absolutely,” he said. “We’ve been looking at kickers who are not 35 and some that are, we’re watching their kickoffs, we’re watching their hang times, we’re watching their distances. Even where I was last year and everything I did kickoff-wise went up with him here. Absolutely, there’s positive benefit for me and positive benefit for him as far as just learning. It’s never fun. He was upset, and it just very easily could’ve been the other way. I have to be thankful for the job, thankful for the Giants and their trust in me. I just have to continue to do the best that I’ve been doing and continue to deliver.”
Running back Peyton Hillis is taking nothing for granted as he prepares to face New England. Hillis missed the last three games with foot and ankle injuries.
“Anybody in my position would have to take things and think, ‘My job might be on the line.’” Hillis said. “So you have to go out there and do your best. But at the same time, this is just a game. Whether you’re getting paid for it or not, this is just a game and you have to go out there and have fun. You’ve got to take that aspect as well. You go out there, do your best but have fun, too.”
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Coughlin said of Hillis, “He is getting a little bit better each day. He was not tentative today at all.”
Hillis learned something about his body during his three idle weeks.
“I know now recovering from a tendon strain is a lot different than recovering from a muscle strain,” he said. “There’s a lot less blood flow, so it takes a lot longer to heal.
“You have to really pace yourself when it comes to things like this, because you don’t want to set yourself back. The part of my foot that I’m using is a big aspect to what I do on the field, so you don’t want to go out there and re-pull it and have to go through the whole process again.”
The Giants received good news today on left guard Geoff Schwartz, who will not need surgery to repair his dislocated right big toe. Schwartz will be in a boot for 7-10 days before beginning a rehabilitation program.
“He is very optimistic and hopefully it is going to mean the recovery is going to be as fast as possible,” Coughlin said. “... I hear the news and I say, ‘Okay, let’s see how this goes,’ Obviously, you can’t rush him back, but it sure would be good to get him back ASAP rather the other way around. It is not going to be easy for him. He is a big man.”
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- Veteran receiver Mario Manningham will enter the game against New England fighting for a roster spot. He has two receptions for 22 yards through four games.
“He has had some spurts the last couple weeks where he has done some real good things on the practice field,” Coughlin said. “It hasn’t carried over to the game field yet. He will have another chance.”
- The following players did not practice: offensive linemen Brandon Mosley (back), James Brewer (back) and Charles Brown (shoulder); defensive tackle Marcus Kuhn (ankle); and wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) and Trindon Holliday (hamstring). They are not expected to play against New England.
Asked about Mosley and Brewer, Coughlin said, “Hopefully, they both will be back as soon as possible. They both feel better today.”
- Cornerback Prince Amukamara will miss his second straight game with a strained groin, but Coughlin said, “He is feeling pretty good.”