EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** John Mara has been affiliated with the Giants his entire life, but this year, they've established a precedent he'd prefer not to see.
"We've lost two starters and we're not in training camp yet, and I don't remember being in that situation before," Mara said today.
The Giants today opened training camp with a conditioning test at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Their first practice is tomorrow. But they will take the field without left tackle Will Beatty, who is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered on May 19, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who reportedly had his right index finger amputated after an incident involving fireworks.
Beatty and JPP were two of the seven Giants to start all 16 games in 2014. Despite their absence, Mara has not changed his outlook for 2015.
"I do think we have enough talent here to have a team that can be in the playoffs and we can contend for a championship," Mara said. "That's what I still believe and that's what my expectations are."
Asked if this was a "win or else" season, Mara said, "You can make that statement every year. This is the NFL. People have expectations, our fans have expectations, and I have expectations. We've been out of the playoffs three years in a row and it's time to put a stop to it."
Mara discussed a wide range of subjects at a news conference today:
- On a contract extension for quarterback Eli Manning, who is entering the final season of his current deal:
"I think we'll get it done at some point in time," Mara said. "We're just going through the usual things that you go through. The agent asks for the moon, we make a reasonable (offer), and at some point, he'll come to his senses and we'll reach an agreement. There's nothing unusual about this.
"I think ideally we would like to have that done (prior to the regular season), but if it doesn't, I don't think that's going to affect our relationship with him or the fact that we will eventually get it done."
The timing for completing the negotiations is not keeping Mara up at night.
"We'd like to have it done before the season is over," he said. "But if it doesn't happen, then I'm still confident it'll get done at some point. We want him to be here and finish his career as a Giant. I'm sure he wants the same thing."
Giants players arrive at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center
- Mara on the prospect of Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. staying healthy and playing together, which occurred for just six quarters last season.
"That obviously is an exciting prospect, and something we haven't been able to witness really to a great degree," Mara said. "Victor looks good, and I'm hoping that he adds something to this offense and Beckham, the sky's the limit for him."
>> GIANTS TRAINING CAMP GUIDE * Mara was asked his reaction to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upholding Tom Brady's four-game suspension in what has become known as Deflategate.
"I support the commissioner on this," Mara said. "Again, I've been around him enough to know that his intention is always to try to do the right thing. I don't always agree with the decisions he makes, but I know that he tries to do the right thing. I know this was a very unpleasant situation for him. You're dealing with the best player in the league. You're dealing with an owner (Robert Kraft) who's been as good as any owner in the league, and somebody that he has a close personal relationship with, so he had to make a tough decision."
Like many NFL leaders, Mara wishes the entire affair had never taken place.
"I'm saddened that it's come to this," Mara said. "We went the two weeks going into the Super Bowl, it's all we talked about was Deflategate, and now coming into training camp, it's all we're talking about. Listen, the commissioner had a very difficult job to do here. But at the end of the day, I think he made a decision based on the evidence and the facts that were before him, and without regard to the profile of the player or his personal relationship with the owner. You know what? That's what he's paid to do. He did his job there. You can argue about whether it was fair or unfair, but he had to make a very tough decision under very difficult circumstances, but at the end of the day that's what he's paid to do."
Photos from the Giants 2015 Conditioning test from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center