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The preseason is about giving unproven players a chance to show what they can do. So it’s not the least bit alarming that starting wideouts Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle have one catch between them (a 12-yarder by Randle).
Residing between the veterans secure in their jobs and the inexperienced players hoping to make the final roster is another seasoned receiver, Mario Manningham.
Meeting with reporters today, Manningham sidestepped a question about the wide receiver competition.
“I’m just going out and playing,” Manningham said. “I’m not worrying about that. I’m just going out and controlling what I can control. I’ll leave it up to the staff to make adjustments.”
Manningham is attempting to come back after undergoing knee surgeries each of the last two seasons. He has had few practice reps with the first-team offense. In limited playing time through two games, he has one reception, a 17-yarder from Ryan Nassib in the opener vs. Buffalo.
Tom Coughlin today was asked to assess Manningham’s progress.
“That is not an easy one,” Coughlin admitted. “Some days it is better than others. I think he is growing in some confidence, but we have been at this for a while and would certainly like to see him at his very best over a period of time, so we can assess what we could expect. He is working at it, he’s working hard, but certainly I think there can be more.”
“That was disappointing,” Coughlin said. “Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. Today wasn’t one of those days, evidently.”
Manningham has the longest and most diverse resume of any Giants wide receiver. He was the team’s third-round draft choice in 2008 and caught 160 regular-season passes in four seasons. Manningham joined the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in 2012. He tore an ACL late that year, returned to catch nine passes in six games in 2013, and underwent a second operation, that one an arthroscopic procedure, in January.
Manningham re-signed with the Giants on March 18 and spent most of the offseason rehabbing his knee.
Although he has played little, Manningham said today his knee is sound.
“I’m doing good, I’m going good,” he said. “Every day it’s getting better. I’m doing good.”
A reporter attempted to get Manningham to place a percentage on his knee strength.
“I’m practicing,” he said. “I’m not thinking about the percentage. I’m out there practicing. … I’m comfortable. I’m real confident in sticking my foot in the ground and going out there and just not thinking about it.”
How about the lack of reps with the starting offense and Eli Manning?
“You know, you’ve got to ease your way into it,” Manningham said. “I’m not looking at it now, I’m out just playing. Cuts are coming up and stuff, I’m just going out and taking care of what I can take care of.”
On Saturday, Manningham returns to the site of his greatest professional play. The Giants will face the Indianapolis Colts in a Lucas Oil Stadium, where they defeated New England in Super Bowl XLVI.
>> WATCH: SUPER BOWL XLVI FLASHBACK
While David Tyree has never tired of discussing his great Super Bowl catch, Manningham is reluctant to discuss his.
“It’s a new season, man,” he said. “It’s been a new season for about two or three seasons now, so I’m not really… I remember it, but I don’t think about it. I’m just trying to make some more plays.”
That would certainly help him in what has become a fierce competition for jobs among the Giants wide receivers.
“Just go play ball, man,” Manningham said. “Don’t worry about anything else. Leave it up to them. That’s it. Control what I can control.”