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Coach Shurmur breaks down QB roster decisions

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Quarterbacks dominated the news as the Giants returned to work today, and Eli Manning's name was hardly mentioned.

Actually, the quarterback who received the most attention at Pat Shurmur's news conference is no longer with the team. One day after the Giants waived Davis Webb, Shurmur was asked to explain the decision to part ways with the second-year pro and keep Alex Tanney and rookie Kyle Lauletta as Manning's backups.

"He was taking second teams reps," Shurmur said of Webb. "I think I mentioned long ago (specifically, Aug. 19) there was no depth chart behind Eli. We were trying to figure out who the guys playing quarterback were going to be behind Eli. (Webb) got a lot of reps, and I think it was probably that where people started to assume because he's taking second string reps that he's a second string quarterback, and it didn't play out that way."

Was Webb outplayed by Tanney and Lauletta? 

"I feel like they are better choices for us now, yes," Shurmur said.

The Giants open their season Sunday at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Asked who the second string quarterback will be, Shurmur said, "We'll see and I'll let you guys know as we go here. I do like having a veteran presence in that group."

Tanney has been with eight teams in the NFL since 2012, but he has played in only one regular-season game.

"Here's the thing with a veteran backup quarterback," Shurmur said. "They can go in and function with very few reps. I think that's an attribute that I look for in a guy that could potentially be a backup to a guy like Eli, because they don't get that many reps during the training sessions."

"Obviously, Eli is the guy, and we're going to do everything we can to help him prepare," Lauletta said. "But Alex and I both have to be ready to go in. It only takes one play for something bad to happen, so we'll be ready to go. I don't know my role right now, but if I did, it wouldn't really change anything, so just going to approach it the same way and continue to learn and help 10 (Manning) out as much as I can."

Lauletta, a fourth-round draft choice this year from Richmond, started the preseason finale last week against New England and has impressed Shurmur since the spring drills.

"I like the fact that he'll decide what he's looking at, see it and pull the trigger," Shurmur said. "He's very decisive in what he does. He's a gamer of sorts, and we're looking forward to working with that."

Tanney said he wasn't nervous on Saturday when the Giants pared their roster from 89 to 53 players. This was, after all, his seventh cutdown day. He played golf and basically tried not to dwell on what was at stake. Today, he didn't overanalyze why he stayed and Webb was cut loose.

"I don't know if I can really pin it on anything," Tanney said. "That's their decision. I just try to stay consistent day in and day out, whatever we talk about in the classroom, just show that I can translate onto the practice field and operate in the system.

"I'm just going to keep preparing the way I've always prepared throughout my entire career, that's like I'm going to play, and that decision is ultimately up to the coaches."

Lauletta was asked what he did to make such a strong impression on Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman.

"I don't know," he said. "I think just doing what the coaches asked me to do. Be a quick decision-maker, be smart with the football, be accurate, let the guys get yards after the catch by throwing it accurately, and just knowing where to go with the football. There were some rough practices toward the end of camp and a couple games I wished I played a little bit better, but all in all I felt like I showed improvement throughout the whole camp and I was on the right track. There's a lot I can improve on and a lot I will improve on."

While the quarterbacks and everyone else began preparing for the Jaguars, two big-picture questions loomed over the quarterback decisions: Why give up on a 2016 third-round draft choice who never played in a regular-season game? And Do the Giants need a post-Manning succession plan? Shurmur addressed both issues.

"Let's forget for a minute he was a third-round pick," Shurmur said. "He was on our team as a Giant and we watched him go through what we do in training camp and what we do in practice and we made a decision to move on and go with the other guys. Let's forget for a minute that he was a third-round pick. I really do mean that. At some point, that all goes away."

And what about devising a plan for the future after Manning, who plans to play for a while but is entering his 15th season?

"At this point, we do (have a plan) right now," Shurmur said. "It's just not what everybody outside our building had predicted the plan was, and I think that's where all the questions are stemming from. But we made a decision that we were going to go with Alex and were going to go with Kyle as Eli's backups, so we move forward."

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