Set your Big Blue time machine to Sept. 12, 2004.
It was the season opener after a franchise-changing offseason for the Giants, who just hired Tom Coughlin as head coach and acquired No. 1 pick Eli Manning in a draft-day trade with San Diego. However, the Giants kicked off the year in Philadelphia with Kurt Warner under center, and they found themselves down 31-10 with 2:37 left in the game thanks to three touchdown catches by Terrell Owens in his Eagles debut.
So Coughlin put in the 23-year-old from Ole Miss to get his first taste of the NFL. On the very first snap, Manning handed the ball off to Tiki Barber, who ran it 72 yards for a touchdown.
"This is easy," Manning said to himself, recalling that memory today in the locker room at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Not so fast.
"Then I took the biggest hit of my life on the last play," Manning, now 34, quickly pointed out. "That was my 'Welcome to the NFL' hit for sure."
Unseen by Manning, Eagles defensive end Jerome McDougle caught the quarterback scrambling to the right side, where he delivered the hit that pinballed him off fellow defenders Darwin Walker and Keith Adams. Manning fumbled the ball as the clock expired to end the game.
"He was behind me, I kind of spun back into it, I went horizontal," Manning said. "So, it wasn't good." "I thought he was dead," his father, Archie, said after the game.
But like he's done for 185 career games, including 183-straight starts in the regular season and playoffs, Manning got up.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP has come a long way since then as he prepares to face the division rivals for what will be the 24th time on Monday night. The NFC East-leading Giants (3-2) enter Lincoln Financial Field with a one-game lead over the Eagles (2-3).
"Yeah always a big one in the division at Philly on a Monday night," said Manning, the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week. "Should be a great atmosphere and a great challenge for us. So we're looking forward to that. They're a good team, they're playing good football, their defense is doing a good job causing a lot of turnovers, offense has been scoring points these past few weeks. We got to expect their best football and we got to go in there and play good ball."
Manning returning to where it all began was just one of the many topics buzzing around the QDTC on Thursday. Here are three takeaways from the day:
1. INJURY REPORT
For the Giants, CB Prince Amukamara (partial pectoral tear) will be out "two to four" weeks, according to Coughlin. LB Jon Beason (concussion), WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), LB Jonathan Casillas (calf), WR Victor Cruz (calf), and LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) did not participate in the first full practice of the week. DE Robert Ayers Jr. (hamstring), CB Trumaine McBride (groin), WR Rueben Randle (hamstring), DE George Selvie (calf) were limited, and OL Justin Pugh (ankle) was a full participant.
For the Eagles, WR Nelson Agholor (ankle), LB Kiko Alonso (knee), DE Brandon Bair (groin), and LB Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) did not practice.
2. AMUKAMARA CONFIDENT IN HOSLEY TO TAKE HIS PLACE
While Amukamara is out, fourth-year pro Jayron Hosley will likely start in his place. Hosley made the 10th start of his career earlier in the season when he replaced the Giants' other starting cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was out with a concussion in Week 3. The Giants defeated the Redskins 32-21 to spark their current three-game winning streak.
"I think Hosley is going to do great," Amukamara said. "Hosley did a great job for DRC against the Falcons and the Redskins. I feel like he's been playing great for us and I feel like he's definitely ready. Amukamara added that Hosley is a more confident player now.
"I know coming out of college he was a guy who made a lot of plays on the ball," Amukamara said. "So just his confidence level and how he carries himself on the field. If he doesn't make a play, he's not down on himself. The coaches are very much confident in him and I think that helps him out a lot."
3. OFFENSIVE LINE LOOKS TO REBOUND FROM 2014 PERFORMANCE
Just like this time around, the Giants lost their first two games in 2014 and then won three straight heading into a primetime game against the Eagles on the road. But the Giants are working to make the outcome much different this year. In a 27-point shutout loss in Week 6 last year, the Giants allowed eight sacks, and the offensive line was responsible for six penalties, including false starts, holding, and one flag for unnecessary roughness.
However, this is a new year with a new offensive line. Weston Richburg moved from guard to his natural position at center; Justin Pugh slid to left guard from right tackle; and the Giants drafted left tackle Ereck Flowers in the first round. Manning broke down the three linemen.
On Richburg: "Weston is playing well. Done a good job making calls and understanding what's going on and taking control of that spot at center. Getting everybody squared away on what they're doing and he's done a good job."
On Pugh: "I think he's definitely one of the leaders on that offensive line. He just takes great pride in what he's doing, the great commitment and toughness. He's done a good job."
On Flowers: "He's quiet, he doesn't say much. But he's competing out there. He has an intensity to him and you can see that determination and he's ready to go.
"I think it's always good to see toughness out of your offensive lineman. You like quiet and mean, that's kind of how you like them usually."
Playmakers on Eagles first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike