But for the Giants, it has been only Manning. He will make his 104th consecutive regular season start (plus seven in the postseason) against the Redskins. Because his older brother Peyton, who reportedly underwent more neck surgery today, will miss Indianapolis' opener in Houston after 208 starts in a row, the Giants' Manning will have the longest starting streak among active quarterbacks. San Diego's Philip Rivers is second, 23 starts behind Manning.
The streak of 103 consecutive starts is the 13th longest among all players. Manning will move up at least two spots on Sunday, because his brother can't play and Alan Faneca, who started 144 games in a row, has retired.
"It means that he has been able to display … toughness and competiveness," Coach Tom Coughlin said. "One week he was out with a shoulder and he played. He has that desire and he has that toughness, both physical and mental. He said the first time he walked into my office that he wanted to be the quarterback and leader of this team and he has demonstrated that consistently."
Manning gives the Giants consistency, stability and production at the game's most important position. Last year, he threw for more than 4,000 yards for the second consecutive season, as well as a career-high 31 touchdowns.
"It's one part you don't have to worry about and he's the most important part, and that's obviously an advantage," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. "He's heard me teach and explain things so often now, he almost sounds like me when he's talking. He's excellent at reinforcing. He can answer questions as if you're there. He knows what you're trying to get done. He has seen the thing all come together before, so he knows what it's supposed to look like, how you're supposed to fit all the pieces together. That's a tremendous advantage that he can conceptualize it and attempt to communicate along with you and along with the other coaches what it is you're trying to get done."
Gilbride said it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of having a quarterback with Manning's talent play week after week after week.
"The fact that you can count on him to show up every week is not something (you take lightly)," Gilbride said. "The whole game is about *that *guy (the quarterback). Whether you're protecting him, whether you're trying to rush, whether you're trying to get the great corners to shut down the guys he's throwing to, it's all about that guy. So if you get that guy that shows up every week and you can count on him and he's going to be prepared and he's going to give you a chance to win every week, I doubt that everybody can say that."
Giants safety Deon Grant, a former college teammate of Peyton Manning's at Tennessee, had started 144 consecutive games when he joined the team last year and has played in 160 games in a row. He said there is no magical formula for staying on the field every week.
"Take care of your body – during the season and in the offseason - and stay in the game," Grant said. "You have to know how to protect yourself. And I have a high tolerance for pain. I've definitely been blessed."
Grant feels a connection to defensive players like Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber and Washington's London Fletcher, who have started 183 and 167 consecutive games, respectively. But he also appreciates quarterbacks who stand in the pocket week after week.
"I definitely admire them because they have a lot of guys coming at their legs, coming at their head," Grant said. "For a quarterback to do it that long, I'm very impressed with them."
Just about the only person who isn't impressed is, characteristically, Eli Manning, who did his best to deflect the subject of the streak when asked about it by reporters.
"I don't know what my number is," he said. "You try to be out there every week and perform and be on the field with your teammates. It's not something that I'm keeping track of."
Manning had a shoulder injury in 2007 and a foot problem two years ago, either of which could have caused him to miss a game and end the streak. But he made every scheduled start.
"There have been a few down the road that it's been a Friday decision or a game time decision (on playing)," he said."That's going to happen every once in a while. I always felt that I could go out there and perform at a high level and be the best option for the team.
"I think that's always the goal, to be there on Sunday. Sometimes it can't happen. Some circumstances come up that you can't prevent. I try to do everything I can. Make sure in the offseason I do all my workouts and running - they prevent the little nicks and knacks. And try to get all of the treatment when you do get banged up, get the treatments and do everything you can to get back on the field."
Manning was asked if luck is a reason behind the streak or if he simply has a characteristic that enables him to stay healthy.
"I don't know what it is," he said. "You try to be out there. You try to work hard during the offseason, prevent the pulls. Those things can be, I think, prevented a little bit. Also, I'm not running as much as a lot of these guys and doing as much cutting. Eliminate a little bit of that. The quarterback, you can play with a lot of big injuries. You get a little injury like an index finger or a thumb that most people can play with, sometimes you can't. I've stayed away from some of those."
Manning's 103 consecutive starts is easily the longest streak by a quarterback in Giants history. Fran Tarkenton held the record of 69 in a row from 1967-71. On the other hand, Peyton Manning made 105 more consecutive starts than his younger brother.
"If you can go through 13 years without missing a game, that's impressive no matter what position or what sport," Manning said. "Just playing for 13 years is impressive. Hopefully, I'll get to this one on Sunday and add another one."
No one on the Giants wishes for any other outcome.
*The Giants will see an old friend on Sunday in defensive tackle Barry Cofield, who played five years for the team before joining the Redskins as a free agent.
Guard Chris Snee often blocked Cofield in practice, but is reluctant to personalize the battle.
"It is us against the Redskins," Snee said. "I am happy for Barry, I am sure he will do great things for them like he did for us. He certainly earned that contract, but now he is no longer a teammate, he is an opponent and a rival and I have to play against him twice a year."
"What I admire about Cofield was that he had a great personality," said running back Brandon Jacobs, who will try to avoid being tackled by his friend. "He made you laugh, no question about it, and on the field he was always walking back from the backfield, which is a great thing for a defensive lineman. He is always coming back across the line of scrimmage to get to his huddle, which means he got through. Like I said, our O-line has a hard task dealing with Cofield, they know that as well as the coaches know that. Everyone else around the locker room knows that but I am confident that they are going to get it done."
Snee is well aware of the attributes Cofield will bring to the field as Washington's nose tackle.
"He comes to work every day," Snee said. "I always thought of Barry as one of the best tackles in the league today. From early on in his career, if anyone would ask me that, I would say him first. He is very quick off the ball. He is strong and a very smart player. He is very talented."
Coughlin said it was initially a little strange to see Cofield wearing Redskins colors.
"I think at first it was, but you see a couple games and you start to get used to it," Coughlin said.
Cofield admitted he is excited about Sunday's game.
"It will mean a lot," Cofield said. "It's a lot of things going into this game. Obviously, I have my own personal feelings about the game, but the game is on 9/11 and all of the ramifications of that and being at home, in front of our home fans for the first time, the first game and what we believe is a new era in Redskins football. There is a lot going into it. It's going to be very emotional, very intense and this is what fans love to see. This is what football is all about."
*The Giants brought in two of their former linebackers, Kawika Mitchell and Chase Blackburn, for tryouts yesterday, but signed neither. Rookie sixth-round draft choice Greg Jones will be the middle linebacker in Washington. Jonathan Goff, who had been starting, tore an ACL in practice on Monday.
"We have great confidence in Greg and all of our young linebackers," Coughlin said. "Depending on how our numbers go, we are down a number that's going to be filled. We did some work earlier in the week with some tryout people and we did some yesterday as well. Two players that I have great respect and admiration for, that have been a huge part of this program."
*Defensive end Justin Tuck did not practice today because of his lingering neck injury.
"Actually because we're in pads; that makes it worse," Coughlin said. "Yesterday he did all of the individuals. Today he did stuff over (on the side).
"We're trying to get it absolutely pain-free and it's not quite that way. That's the obvious reason. A setback and we have some issues."
Tuck, who suffered a burner in a preseason game 10 days ago said it is improving.
"Not as fast as we want it to, but it is getting better," he said.
Tuck insists he will play on Sunday.
"I will be there Sunday," he said.
Every other Giants player with a chance to play in the game practiced.
Safety LeRon Landry (hamstring) was the only Redskins player to miss practice.
*The Giants players elected three of their teammates as captains for the 2011 season; Manning (offense), Tuck (defense) and Zak DeOssie (special teams). Manning and Tuck were captains last season. DeOssie replaces the departed Chase Blackburn, who was the special teams captain in 2010.
"I'm honored that my teammates elected me and I'm excited to take on the role as captain," DeOssie said. "I know I can contribute to this team as a leader on the special teams and I look forward to the challenge."
*This will be the third time in four seasons the Giants will open against Washington; they defeated the Redskins in season openers at home in 2008 and 2009.
*This is the first time the Giants will open on the road since 2007, when they lost a Sunday night game in Dallas.
*This is the Giants' first season opener in Washington since 1989, when they defeated the Redskins, 26-24, on Raul Allegre's 52-yard field goal as time expired.
*The Giants filled the final spot on their eight-man practice squad by signing wide receiver Dan DePalma, a rookie from West Chester (Pa.) University. He was in training camp with the Jets. DePlama played at Verona (N.J.) High School, about 20 minutes from MetLife Stadium.