The Giants will see two old friends who were big contributors to last season's Super Bowl championship team when they visit the San Francisco 49ers Sunday. Wide receiver Mario Manningham and running back Brandon Jacobs are now with the Niners after signing as free agents in the offseason.
"(I'm) definitely looking forward to it," Victor Cruz said today. "I miss those guys a little bit, haven't seen them in a while. I still send text messages to them every now and then; it's going to be cool to see those guys again."
Manningham is third on the 49ers with 19 receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown. He also has two rushing attempts, a 28- and a 29-yarder.
"I just want to go out and do what I have to do to make us come out with a 'W,'" Manningham said today on a conference call with the Giants media. "Knowing that I get the ball a little bit more than I did over there. I'm involved more over here. So, you know, just try to take it step-by-step. Just trying to knock down whoever is in our way."
Jacobs has yet to wear a uniform in the regular season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. There has been speculation he will make his San Francisco debut against his former team.
Jacobs played for the Giants from 2005-2011. He holds the franchise record with 56 rushing touchdowns and is fourth in franchise history with 4,849 rushing yards.
Manningham joined the team as a third-round draft choice in 2008 and caught 160 regular-season passes in four years. But he earned his place in Giants lore with a sensational 38-yard catch on the left sideline that started the Giants' game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI. Manningham also caught a touchdown pass in the NFC Championship Game – in San Francisco.
Jacobs and Manningham are, of course, intimately familiar with the Giants' offense and are providing information for the San Francisco defense.
"No question," Manningham said. "I talked to the DBs, and talked to my teammates, and stuff. Let them know, to give them heads up, what's going to happen here, things like that."
The Giants' reaction to that is one of nonchalance.
"That's just a part of the game," linebacker Chase Blackburn said. "They're trying to get a win as well, so I'm sure there are a lot of things being talked about in their meeting rooms and different strategies or whatever have you or terminology. That's a part of the game and we have to overcome it."
"I think we'll be all right," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Everybody always talks a little bit, but they're not going to know what plays we're running, or what we're doing. So, I think we'll be in good shape."
The Giants have prepared for the secrets their former teammates are likely sharing.
"They're probably spilling the beans over there, but it's expected," Cruz said. "We, as an offense, have probably switched a few things up so they don't have a complete read on what we have going on."
Manningham maintains contact with selected former teammates.
"The only ones I talked to over there are (Ahmad) Bradshaw and Hakeem (Nicks)," he said. "We don't even really talk about football, man. I talked to Hakeem for like two hours after our game. Talking to him, and stuff, we talk back and forth. Nobody is going to say their team is going to lose. So, I wouldn't expect that to come out his mouth, you know what I'm saying?"
Manningham admitted the Giants are more than just another opponent to him.
"I'm going to go out there and play my butt off," he said. "That's just plain and simple. Do I have a grudge? No. But, am I motivated? Yeah. I'm motivated by every game, especially this game. Who wouldn't be motivated by their old team?"
*Seven Giants players did not practice today, though Tom Coughlin said one of them, Blackburn (hip), is expected to work tomorrow.
The others were tight end Martellus Bennett (knee), defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (quadriceps), running back Andre Brown (concussion), Nicks (foot/knee), safety Kenny Phillips (knee) and cornerback Corey Webster (hand/hamstring).
Nicks has missed the last three games, but Coughlin is hopeful he will return to the field this week and perhaps play Sunday against the 49ers in San Francisco.
Phillips began doing some non-practice work today. Brown won't work until he passes the test administered to all players who have suffered from a concussion.
*Linebacker Michael Boley (hip) and tackle David Diehl (knee) participated on a limited basis.
*Wide receiver Ramses Barden (concussion), linebacker Keith Rivers (hamstring), cornerback Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and safety Antrel Rolle (knee) practiced fully.