Q: How does it feel to get back?
Manning: "It feels great. It's always good the first day to come back in and see all the faces, the new faces, and get your team back together and get everybody working hard and catch up with everybody. We had a good first day. It's just good to get everybody back and get everybody excited about the upcoming season."
Q: When you start an offseason program, what are your priorities in what you try to accomplish at this early stage?
Manning: "Right now, I'm just getting back to getting in shape and trying to get stronger. The first couple of weeks you're just trying to prepare yourself for the season. It's a long lifting program. You shouldn't be in top form next week. It's about getting yourself ready for training camp. But this is where it starts – getting stronger, getting in shape, getting faster the first couple of weeks. And then the next weeks we'll start some meetings with (quarterbacks) coach (Chris) Palmer and eventually start throwing and getting the shoulder back strong, getting arm strength and start working on fundamentals."
Q: Were you surprised in free agency that the team went almost exclusively on the defensive side of the ball?
Manning: "No, not surprised. Obviously, they saw some talented players on defense that could come in and make our team better. I love having a great defense being a part of this team. It makes our offensive job easier where we can run the ball and you don't have to go in thinking you have to score 35 points a game. Your defense is going to get some turnovers and stop people and get good field position. I was excited when we got good defensive players and added them to an already-good defense. I think we have a lot of guys in place on the offense and we'll get some help in draft, I assume, on the offensive part of it and I'll look forward to that."
Q: A lot was made in the playoff loss about playing in the wind and throwing in the wind. How much of that is a concern of yours, and are you working on anything mechanically this year to try to alter things?
Manning: "I'm not trying to alter anything. Playing in the wind is just part of Giants Stadium. You're going to have to deal with that. When you go in certain directions, some throws are going to be tough. If you can't step into it and get a spiral and get everything into the ball, it will sail on you and get caught up into it. Sometimes you don't have a choice; you just have to try to fit it in there. When you're going in certain directions you have to be wary of it and try to stay away from certain throws sometimes, or just make sure you get everything on it and make sure you can get your whole body into it and throw a good ball. That's part of playing in Giants Stadium – you're going to have to deal with some windy conditions."
Q: What were your impressions of Chris Canty having played against him the last few years?
Manning: "He's an impressive player. He's big and strong and he's versatile. He can play end, he can play tackle and he's been a great player for Dallas for a long time. I'm glad to see him part of the Giants, not only to help us out, but also so we don't have to play him twice a year. I got to see him at the Pro Bowl a little bit and be around him. He was in today working out. He's a hard worker and a good person, so we're excited about having him part of this team."
Q: Did you reach out to Plaxico at all during the time off since the season ended?
Manning: "I've sent some texts and just tried to keep up with him and tell him I'm thinking about him. In that situation there's a lot of waiting and seeing. I guess we'll find something out these next couple of weeks about what's going to happen. It sounds like we have to wait and see what the circumstances are going to be."
Q: Tuck says you are the team to beat this year…do you feel similarly?
Manning: "I assume Pittsburgh is probably the team to beat. In the NFC, there are a lot of good teams. We just have to do our job. It doesn't really matter if you're the team to beat or not. We have to go out and beat every team that we try to play. That's going to be our goal, try to win as many games as we can. Right now, it's about training and doing everything we can in this offseason to improve individually and improve most importantly as a team and see where we can get stronger and better and go in with the right mindset. For most of the season last year we were one of the better teams and playing great football. But we didn't finish the season the way we wanted to. We know better than anyone that's what it's all about – how you play in the playoffs in those games. We weren't playing our best football at the end of the season."
Q: You have mentioned a few times that you have confidence in the group of young receivers you have. … Is it too much to ask one of those guys to be a number one guy?
Manning: "All the receivers we have are excited about their chances this year. They know they have to step up their game and play well for us. That's everybody from Steve Smith to (Domenik) Hixon to Mario Manningham to Sinorice (Moss). We have David Tyree back. We have guys that have to play and play in different spots and move around. We don't know the Plaxico situation and we don't know what might happen in the draft. I like our group of guys. They work really hard. They're committed. They want to get better and they're doing all the right things during the offseason in their training and practice. They have great work ethic and that's what I like. Guys are going to go out there, they're going to fight for you, they're going to compete, because they all want to get better – and they will. They'll all improve this offseason. We're going to work hard to improve our timing and see where everybody is going to be playing and how they can help out this team. That's all we can ask for. I'm confident these guys are going to play well for us."
Q: If Plaxico doesn't come back, do you need a deep threat?
Manning: "I think we're hoping Mario Manningham can do that for us and be one of those guys who has speed and can run and make those deep catches. I think Steve Smith can do some of that and Hixon has made some deep catches for us in the past. I think we have guys who can do that, but we'll see what happens the rest of the offseason and in the draft. Maybe we'll add another guy. Some of that is going to depend on Plaxico and what he's going to do. But I think some of these guys can make big plays for us and can catch the ball and give us some explosive plays in the passing game, as well as have that in the running game as well."
Q: You had a break, obviously a much different experience than last year after the Super Bowl. How was your break? Was it hard to put the last game away? The differences between the two offseasons must be pretty vast…
Manning: "I think it was a little different this year because we felt so good about our team. We played so well during the regular season, so we had high expectations going into the playoffs. We felt we had a good shot at making a strong run. There was just disappointment after the season. Every year we've been knocked out of the playoffs we've been disappointed. But this was different because we felt we had a good shot at making a run. Last year, we were the surprise team – we made the run and we were playing great football at the end of the season. This year, we didn't play our best in the playoffs and that's what you have to have. You know you're going to be playing against a good team in the Philadelphia Eagles, who know us really well. It was one of those games that's always a tight game where you have to play great football. We weren't able to do that. That's disappointing and frustrating a little bit. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But you get excited about coming back for the offseason and getting back to work and see where you can improve to make sure we can become a stronger and better team this year."