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Giants return to the practice fields

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Eli Manning has returned to the job he does best, but he demonstrated last week that if this football thing doesn't work out he's a quick learner in other venues.

The Giants today had their first on-field workout with coaches present.

"I'm excited to be back and practicing today, be with my teammates on the field and trying to get better here," Manning said.  "It's great to be back on the field, have the coaches. We've been doing some stuff on our own, but to have the coaches out there and have a structured practice and have everybody running around and getting the full speed was good. It was good to get out there and get started working on things that we need to improve on to get better for next year."

Manning is still accepting plaudits for his stint as the host of Saturday Night Live, a gig that was both challenging and enjoyable.

The two-time Super Bowl winner has said he is never nervous playing football, because he is well-prepared and carrying out his assignments. A week of rehearsals and his innate confidence helped him avoid butterflies Saturday night.

"I'm used to doing live," Manning said. "I do live every Sunday of the football season. I was just going to have fun with this experience and go out there and enjoy it. And that's what I did."

The SNL audience included Manning's wife, Abby, parents Archie and Olivia, and offensive linemen Chris Snee, David Diehl and David Baas, as well as former center Shaun O'Hara, a close Manning friend. Early in Manning's monologue, the television cameras showed the four linemen crammed into their small seats in the studio.

"We were packed in there like sardines," Baas said. "We were planning on going boy, girl, boy, girl to try to separate the fat, but we ended up the four of us being smashed together. So I took the lean back and Diehl took the lean forward to create some space. But it's a small venue. I didn't realize it was that tiny."

That didn't diminish the enjoyment the linemen had attending Manning's show business debut.

"We all had a good time," Diehl said. "People got to see his funny side and a side of him that I see every day as one of Eli's close friends and his teammate. It was great to go there and see it and watch. It was funny and he did a great job."

"Obviously, it's a big deal and he did great," Snee said. "Everyone was asking me if he was going to be nervous. The guy plays on the biggest stage every Sunday during the fall and winter, so he's not a guy that gets rattled and nervous. Believe it or not, he's funny."

Manning demonstrated that in numerous skits. He was a football player wearing a tight all-black outfit with ping pong-like ornaments as he "posed" for the cover of a video game, a courtroom defendant who had sent an explicit text, an Occupy Wall Street protester and, in a taped skit, a champion for all boys who get harassed by older brothers. Manning said he changed his clothes 8-10 times during the 90-minute show.

"It's just fast-paced," Manning said. "You sometimes have two minutes to change, put on a new wig and change outfits and get ready for the next skit.

"You do a full dress rehearsal at eight o'clock and then from there it changes. You have to cut things down and change jokes and things that weren't successful you get out. From the opening monologue to every skit there are some changes."

Manning said memorizing lines wasn't an issue.

"I didn't memorize any lines," he said. "You just read the cards because they're getting changed. As soon as you start memorizing they're going to change them before you even have a chance to look at them again. They just change them and you just read the cards and go with the flow."

Perhaps Manning's most memorable role was as a cross-dressing beauty contestant who wore a bright yellow wig and a long dress. Diehl called it his "Chiquita banana outfit."

"We lost it," Diehl said. "We saw him coming on and the minute he turned the corner we were like, 'Here we go. Here it is.' It was comical. But that's the whole point. If you're going to do something like that, if you're going to go out and do something fun, do it all out. Have fun with it. That's exactly what Eli did."

What were Snee's thoughts when his longtime teammate walked onto the stage dressed like Carmen Miranda?

"I'm thinking that I'm going to take a picture of this even though phones are supposed to be off and I have a picture of it," Snee said. "I can't tell you when, but at some point in the next few months the media will see it. It will come about again."

Manning, who can deliver and take a prank with the best of them, will probably have the biggest laugh. He said he never felt silly in any of his numerous comedy roles.

"I was just trying to play the part," he said. "I was open to do whatever and just try to have fun with it and trust them, the writers, that they're going to put me in a situation to be funny and try to get some laughs. It was a lot of fun."

And so was returning to the field today with his teammates.

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