EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As he often does at his daily news conferences, Giants coach Pat Shurmur today discussed the team’s quarterbacks. But no one talked about Alex Tanney.
Tanney is the fourth player in what is expected to be a three-man rotation. Throughout training camp, he has taken reps behind starter and 15-year veteran Eli Manning, second-year pro Davis Webb and rookie Kyle Lauletta.
For the second practice in a row, Manning’s workload was reduced today, allowing Davis and Lauletta to take first-team snaps.
“We kind of backed off on Eli just a little bit,” Shurmur said. “He’s taken a few snaps in his lifetime, so that’s all that was. There’s a double-edged sword to that. By doing that, it allowed us to get those guys bumped up and get more reps, and that’s what we were trying to do.”
When he met the media, Shurmur was asked about the shuffling, but not about Tanney, who has gone about his business in virtual anonymity since joining the team on May 2.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I’m given, and try and show I can take what we talked about in the classroom and transfer that out on to the practice field,” Tanney said. “I feel like I’m starting to get a good grasp of the offense and every rep that I’m given, I feel like I’m becoming better and better.
“I learned early on not to look at the depth chart or where you stand in line. I don’t necessarily have a ton of playing experience, but I have a lot of experience being in different offenses, so I feel like I get along great in our quarterback room. If those guys have any questions, I’m more than willing to help. I feel like we build good relationships where if they come off the field, they can ask me how I saw something or how they saw something. I think that part has been good, the communication there, so I hope both those guys do well.”
To the quarterbacks, the preseason opener vs. Cleveland mirrored what happens most days in practice. After Manning, Webb and Lauletta played, Tanney came in for the final two series. He completed three of seven passes for 49 yards.
“I was on injured reserve (with Tennessee) last year, so I wasn’t able to practice or anything,” Tanney said. “I felt like during OTAs and the first week or so of camp I was trying to knock some rust off after not taking a snap in six or seven months. There’s always things you can work on, so there’s things I took away that I try to improve on this week.”
With his limited number of reps, Tanney must guard against the thought that he must make a big play every time he gets the ball in his hands.
“That’s tough, because you kind of find yourself telling yourself that,” he said. “That’s something I try to tell the young guys in the huddle, because you want to make the most of those reps you’re given. We’re not given a ton. The biggest thing is showing that you can operate in the system and be consistent day in and day out.”
Tanney has spent many days in the NFL, but has a skimpy record to show for them.
The Giants are Tanney’s eighth team since he entered the league as a rookie free agent in 2012 after a standout career for the Fighting Scots of Monmouth College in Illinois. He is the second former Monmouth quarterback currently employed in the NFL. The other is his brother, Mitch, who is the Denver Broncos’ director of football analytics.
Alex Tanney began his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. He has since done stints on the active rosters and/or practice squads – some twice - of Dallas, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Buffalo, Indianapolis, and now the Giants.
Although this is his seventh year in the league, Tanney has played in only one regular-season game. On Jan 3, 2016 – the 2015 season finale – he completed 10 of 14 passes for 99 yards and one touchdown in the Titans’ loss in Indianapolis.
“I prepare and I work every day like I'm going to play,” he said. “I've been given the opportunity to play once in a regular-season game and I still feel like the way that I prepare, the way that I go about in the classroom and the weight room and on the practice field that I'm preparing to play. So that's kind of the approach I take and I plan on continuing to do that.”
Some players in his positon would have succumbed to frustration and despair after a career spent largely on the practice field, but Tanney enjoys every day he spends on a football field.
“I love being around the guys, I love football, I know I want to coach when I'm done. I really enjoy being in the building and talking ball and learning ball and it's getting to a point now where, like you said, I've bounced around quite a bit and I can kind of share some of my experiences and some of the guys that I've been around and some of the offenses that I've been a part of with the guys here, so I enjoy that part as well.”
He has particularly enjoyed working with Manning, Davis and Lauletta, a close-knit group despite the age and experience differences.
“I feel like we have a great quarterback room,” Tanney said. “We get along really well, but I also think we compete. When you have a room like that it’s going to make everybody better. Whether it’s in the classroom or in the weight room or on the practice field, I think we all do a great job in communicating. If anyone has any questions, everyone, even Eli, is more than willing to help in any way they can, because you want to see those guys do well.”
View the best images from Monday's practice