A stomach bug accomplished something no opponent has done in eight years – sidelined Eli Manning.
It's nothing major and the Giants' quarterback will take his customary spot behind center in the NFC Championship Game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. But Manning, who never misses work, had his day cut short today because of an upset stomach. He was officially limited in practice and departed early. Backup David Carr took has place.
"Eli started practice but did not finish," Coach Tom Coughlin said. "He has a stomach bug and that is why he appears on the injury list. Hopefully it is just a 24-hour deal and he will feel better tomorrow."
It is virtually unprecedented for Manning to miss any work, whether it's practice, a meeting, conditioning or a solitary study session. His teammates were universally unconcerned that he had to leave practice four days before the title game.
"I don't think it's going to affect him at all," said wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who has four touchdown catches in two postseason games. "He's alright, he's as tough as they come."
"It's not going to affect him," safety Antrel Rolle said. "Eli will be fine. Nothing's going to stop him at this point. I'm pretty sure a lot of us feel the same way. He's our leader. I'm sure he's going to come out there, be prepared and lead us on Sunday."
Victor Cruz was asked if he is concerned Manning's absence will result in timing issues between the quarterback and his receivers.
"No, not at all," Cruz said. "As long as he'll be out here tomorrow and Friday and be out here working with us. It's tough to pull him away from this field. No matter how sick he was, he didn't want to leave the field today, but it's just one of those things where he had to. We understand that, but by no means do I think our timing will be off or anything like that."
Manning normally takes all of the offensive snaps in practice, with Carr quarterbacking the scout team during the defensive portions of practice. Carr, who was also the backup in 2008 and 2009 before playing for the 49ers last season, stepped in with the offense today.
"I've been on both sides of it where you're preparing and you're the starter or you're preparing and you're the backup," said Carr, who has not played a down since the preseason. "Really, the best solution I've found is to do the same. Literally every Wednesday that I've come out this year, I've expected to go out and practice. So I've just had to kind of when he goes out there, realize it's not my turn. This week it paid off because I had to go out there and do it and hopefully it looked pretty smooth and we just keep moving forward. But for me, you've just got to do it the same every week or you're going to have to ride a rollercoaster like we would have had to do today."
Carr said he saw nothing unusual about Manning prior to practice.
"I didn't really notice that he was sick when we were in the meetings this morning," Carr said. "So that's the good sign. He just was in there plugging away and he charged through it for a couple of hours this morning, and when we went out to practice, I guess he wasn't feeling great."
Carr estimated he took "75 percent" of the practice snaps today. Like everyone else, he is certain Manning's absence doesn't even qualify as a bump on the road to San Francisco.
"I'd say if he didn't have kind of the red belt mastery of the offense, then maybe," Carr said. "But he does. It's not something that's going to affect him. I think the biggest thing would be the players, the rest of the guys. So what I try to do is just go in and do just exactly what he would do. Just try and keep it consistent so their practice and their Wednesday is as normal as possible. And I think that it was."
*This is Steve Weatherford's third consecutive trip and fourth overall to a conference title game. He played for the Jets in the last two AFC Championship Games and for New Orleans in 2006. It's great to get this far, but…Weatherford's teams are 0-3.
"Going three times, and losing every single one of them, you almost feel snake-bitten," Weatherford said. "It's kind of like a big tease, like, 'Hey, you know what, we're going to get this far, and it's all for nothing.' I told Lawrence (Tynes) once we made it in the playoffs, if we're not going to win it all, I don't even want to go any further, I don't want to play in the playoffs."
Weatherford strongly believes the Giants will end his personal losing streak this week.
"I've never felt more confident that I'm going to win it all," he said. "Last year, we felt really good, we were playing really good football, but I never really felt like I could feel like I feel right now. I don't feel like we're invincible, but I feel like we're the only people that can stop us. Unless we shoot ourselves in the foot, I don't think there's a team in the NFL that can beat us."
*The forecast for San Francisco Sunday is for temperatures in the mid-50s with a chance of showers. No one on the Giants seems particularly concerned about the game being played in wet conditions.
"I have looked at it at a glance but it is what it is," Coughlin said. "There isn't going to be anything that we can do about it except go play in it. If we have to put the ball in a bucket of water a couple times this week, we will do that. We are going to prepare for whatever happens and hopefully be able to play our game."
Asked what effect the weather would have, Justin Tuck said, "Nothing. You have to play in it, too. I think it's supposed to rain out there all week or something like that. How I look at weather is that the other team has to deal with it too. I like playing football regardless of snow, sleet, sun, whatever. It doesn't really stop what we want to do, we just change some things."
*Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) was the only Giant to sit out practice. Bradshaw seldom practices on Wednesday.
*Linebacker Mark Herzlich, who has missed the last seven games with an ankle injury, returned to practice on a limited basis. Also limited were defensive ends Tuck (shoulder) and Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) and cornerback Corey Webster (hamstring).
*The victory last week in Green Bay was the 46th postseason game in the history of the Giants franchise. That is tied for the third-most in NFL history with … the Packers. Dallas is first with 58 postseason games, followed by Pittsburgh at 53. The Giants entered this postseason with 44 and have moved past the Minnesota Vikings (45) and are even with the Packers – until Sunday.
*Nicks opened the playoffs with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns in the wild card victory over Atlanta and followed with seven receptions for 165 yards and two scores in Green Bay. He joins Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1989) and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald (2008) as the only wide receivers in the Super Bowl era with at least two games in a single postseason with at least 100 receiving yards and at least two touchdowns.
*The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will celebrate the New York Giants as they prepare to challenge the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's NFC Championship Game by lighting the John F. Kennedy International and Stewart International Airport control towers in Giants Blue.
Airport travelers, local residents and fans will find the exteriors of both air traffic control towers adorned in blue light through Sunday night.