EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Ryan Nassib's path to playing time is impeded by one of the NFL's sturdiest roadblocks.
Nassib is entering his third season as the Giants' backup quarterback, a position that is not conducive to busy game days between the white lines. Eli Manning has started 167 consecutive games, the longest streak among all active NFL players, and the third-longest among quarterbacks in league history. Manning, entering his 12th season, is as entrenched in his job as any player. So barring the Giants' worst-case scenario, a Manning injury, Nassib has no foreseeable chance for a promotion.
For someone who has played in four games and thrown five passes in two seasons, that might be frustrating. But Nassib insists it isn't for him.
"No, just because I know I have a lot to work on in my game, and that keeps me busy," Nassib said this week. "My concerns go toward making sure my game is getting better and progressing as training camp goes on."
Although his standing has remained the same, Nassib has experienced plenty of change in a relatively short time period. He is being tutored by his third position coach in three seasons: Sean Ryan when he was a rookie, Danny Langsdorf last season, and Mike Sullivan this year. Sullivan was previously on Tom Coughlin's staff from 2004-11, the last two as quarterbacks coach.
Nassib is in his second season in the offense that coordinator Ben McAdoo installed last year, after learning Kevin Gilbride's system as a rookie.
"I think we are trying to take that next step and trying to make this offense ours," Nassib said. "Last year, we had to overcome a learning curve. Now we have the whole system under our belt and a whole season to learn from. I think our goal is to keep taking more strides to make this system ours and kind of run it the way we want to run it."
Manning has spoken of the advantage of having experience with McAdoo and the system, and Nassib concurs.
"The biggest difference is you spend less time thinking, 'Okay, is everybody lined up correctly?' or 'Who has what route on this play?'" Nassib said. "That's how it is when you're trying to just learn it. Now you've learned it, you've repped it, you can worry more about what the defense is doing. You have a better understanding of the play, you've seen it more and more, and then you are able to execute it faster. Having another year in the system takes a lot of the thinking out of it. It's more just reacting."
Although reluctant to critique his own performance, Nassib believes he has progressed. But he's more focused on his deficiencies and how to improve.
"There's a lot of stuff that I still need to work on," he said. "There's definitely some throws I wish I had back. We're all still learning. We're all trying to make strides, we're all trying to figure some things out. We've had good plays and bad plays. The biggest thing is when we don't execute the way we should be, you kind of use it as teaching tools. You kind of put those in the back of your brain for next time a similar situation comes up."
Sullivan has been impressed with Nassib's performance and work ethic.
"I think Ryan is a very, very hard worker, (and) very competitive," Sullivan said. "I mean, he is a gym rat. You talk about knowledge of the system, that guy, he is as sharp as a tack. He is someone from a mobility standpoint, he has the ability to extend plays and if he has to scramble, he has that as an asset. He is getting better (with) some of the things with his release and vantage point and tightening that up and getting the ball out of his hands faster. He has been doing that, so we have been very pleased working with him and I am excited to see what he does here in the preseason."
The Giants will play their first preseason game Friday night in Cincinnati, after practicing with the Bengals on Tuesday and Wednesday. That will likely be Nassib's most extended chance to impress the coaches. In the 2014 preseason, he led the Giants with 70 passes and 44 completions (59.5 percent) for 588 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
The highlight of the summer occurred on Aug. 16 in Indianapolis, where he led the Giants back from a 26-0 fourth-quarter deficit to a 27-26 triumph.
"Any opportunity to play, I cherish and look forward to," Nassib said. "Right now, just kind of focusing on day-to-day, getting better and when the preseason games get here, then that switch will turn on."