EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Darius Slayton was seven years old when Eli Manning threw his first NFL pass in 2004.
"That's mind blowing, honestly," Slayton said today. "He was winning Super Bowls when I was eating Goldfish. It's an honor to be able to play with a Hall of Fame quarterback."
That age and experience difference, and the fact that they had never played in a game together, did not prevent the veteran quarterback and rookie wide receiver from developing an instant connection Monday night in Philadelphia. In the second quarter, Slayton caught five passes for 154 yards, including touchdowns of 35 and 55 yards, as the Giants jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead against the Eagles.
"He's a really good quarterback," Slayton said. "It's pretty easy for receivers when you play with accurate throwers, even if you don't have a lot of rapport with him. If you know where the ball is going to be, know when the ball is coming, it helps make that transition really smooth."
Both the Manning/Slayton partnership and the team were shut out in the second half in what became a 23-17 overtime loss. On Sunday, they will all get an opportunity to play a complete game when the Giants host the Miami Dolphins.
Coach Pat Shurmur announced after practice that rookie quarterback Daniel Jones will miss his second consecutive game because of the sprained ankle he suffered two weeks ago vs. Green Bay. Manning will make his fourth start of the season, his first in MetLife Stadium in exactly three months, and the 234th of his career.
Guard Kevin Zeitler (ankle) and tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) will join Jones on the inactive list.
This could be Manning's last start and final appearance in MetLife Stadium. Or, it might be the second of three or four consecutive outings for the 16-year veteran. It depends on Jones' ankle.
"He made progress," Shurmur said of Jones. "He was out here. Last week, he was in a boot. This week, he was out here practicing. If you remember what I said about his injury, it was similar to Saquon's (Barkley) but not as severe. So, there's a stretch of time here that he's going to have to rehab before he's able to play. But it should be a shorter stretch in my mind."
Shurmur said it's "hard to say" if Jones will be healthy enough to play next week in Washington. The Giants' final game is at home against Philadelphia on Dec. 29.
"Obviously, people heal at different rates," Shurmur said. "I can tell he's a fast healer. He's champing at the bit to get out there. He believes in his ability to play whatever his physical condition is. He actually hurt his ankle in the first half of the game and he gutted through it. But at this stage, in Daniel's case, we have to save him from himself in a few of these situations moving forward. But that's a good thing because he wants to be out there in the worst way."
But on Sunday he will watch Manning play and offer any assistance he can from the sideline.
"I think with Eli, he's going to stay in the moment and keep playing," Shurmur said. "He's going to play this game knowing there are two more left, and he may be the starter in the last two. He's done it his whole career, staying in the moment. My guess is he's going to do it that way this time."
He did on Monday. Though he hadn't played since Sept. 15, Manning completed 15 of 30 passes for 203 yards and did not throw an interception. All but four of the completions and 24 of the yards were in the first half.
"He dropped two, three bombs, beautiful throws. He's still got it," Slayton said. "I think it's really impressive. There are not many quarterbacks that even remain employed until their 38. It's a testament to him and his work ethic that he's still here. Also, a testament to him that he's been ready. He hasn't played in however many weeks it's been. That's him being prepared, being ready for his opportunity."
It was also a big night for Slayton. He caught just one pass for six yards in his first career Monday night game, against Dallas on Nov. 4. Slayton was much more productive in his encore performance on the big stage in Philadelphia.
"It was a lot of fun," Slayton said. "Mostly because a lot of my family is not from this region, so it's kind of inconvenient for them to catch our games. But it was nationally televised, so everybody got to watch. I got a chance to wear My Cause, My Cleats. I did it for the American Cancer Society. Ralph David Abernathy was a close family friend of mine. He passed a couple years ago because of cancer. It was important for me. I wanted to go out there and play well and just do my best."
Slayton has souvenirs from his memorable night. He keeps every football he catches for a touchdown. And Manning hasn't seen the last of them.
"I'm going to have to get him to sign it," Slayton said. "Year 16, I don't know, maybe get two or three more. I might have to have him sign it. Hopefully we get a few more."
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins
Giants vs. Dolphins Broadcast Info: TV channel, Radio Station and Live Stream.