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Mario Manningham returns to unfamiliar Giants


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Mario Manningham has proven you can go home again in the NFL, even if the place looks completely different than it did when you left.


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After two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Manningham returned this year to the Giants, the team that drafted him in 2008 and for whom he played his first four pro seasons. He is back in a familiar locker room playing again for coach Tom Coughlin and catching passes from Eli Manning.

But most everything else seems so unfamiliar.

"This is still a new team to me," Manningham said today. "New faces, new staff, new offense. I am going out there like I want to make this team, not like I already made the team or I got drafted here. I have something to prove also."

Manningham has the added challenge of returning from two knee surgeries – a reconstruction in 2012, plus an arthroscopic procedure in January. He's not where he wants to be physically, but Manningham insists he's getting closer.

"Every day I feel better," Manningham said. "I am going out here and just trying to get back where I was. … I have to knock a couple cobwebs off, but I am getting there."

Manningham was asked what he specifically needs to work on.

"Coming in and out of my breaks," he said. "Knowing I have the injury, it is taking me a little bit of time. But every day, as I said, it is getting better and better. Coming out of my breaks, that is it, just want to come out of my breaks smooth and fluid like I was."

"I think he's still kind of getting his speed back and getting his feet back," Manning said. "He didn't practice at all during the spring, so he's only been back here for a few practices. You know he's a guy who can make plays for you. We have a good communication and just (need him to) be on the same page with me. He's still learning a new offense. He's only been out there a few days, so he's still learning on the run as well."

Manningham, a dynamic receiver when he is healthy, is eager to develop a better rapport with Manning. During his first go-round with the team, Manningham caught 156 regular-season passes from Manning for 2,275 yards and 18 touchdowns, plus 13 catches for 189 yards and three scores in the postseason. The most memorable of those was his incredible 38-yard reception on the left sideline to start the Giants' game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI.

"We are getting back on the same page," Manningham said, "knowing we have a new offense, knowing that we have been away from each other for a couple years. It will take a little bit of time. We are working on it."

Manning is happy to have Manningham as his teammate again.

"I think Mario enjoyed being a New York Giant," Manning said. "Sometimes you leave and understand that you had a good thing going here. He left on great terms with the organization and had a great couple years here and went off and had some injuries in San Francisco, but we're glad to have him back and I think he's glad to be back."

He absolutely is. Now Manningham just needs to get back in top condition.

"I want to do the old stuff that I used to do," Manningham said. "Get some strength. My strength is getting there. Every day I feel better and better. I want to try out new releases. This is training camp. That is when you learn from your mistakes and do what you have to do to better your skill level and put yourself in the best position."

Manningham's best position is clearly with the Giants.

  • Two rookies – wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and tight end Xavier Grimble – were not on the practice field today.

"They were in treatment and went over to the doctor," Coughlin said.

  • New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will call plays from the sideline, beginning Sunday night in the Hall of Fame Game vs. Buffalo in Canton, Ohio.
  • The Giants worked in full pads for the second day in a row.

"You have to put the pads on," Coughlin said. "You are not going to get it done with shorts and T-shirts. It's a physical game and it has to be played upfront, it has to be technically sound, and you must be able to physically be in the position where you are making the blocks or you are defending. We have always put tremendous stock on what is up front with our offensive line and our defensive line as a measure of literally the strength of our team. We are glad to be in the pads and as each day passes, they are challenged to be more physical. We always talk about being smart because we don't want anyone to do anything stupid that costs us a player, but the physical aspect of the game is something we have to definitely get back to."

  • Speaking of being physical…fullback Henry Hynoski and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins had a brief skirmish on the practice field. Hynoski lost his helmet, which was retrieved by Antrel Rolle.
  • Tight end Larry Donnell made the catch of the day, reaching out over the middle to secure a Ryan Nassib pass and then holding onto the ball while tumbling to the ground.
  • The Giants waived tackle DeMarcus Love and were awarded offensive lineman Mark Asper off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

Asper, 6-6 and 321 pounds, played on special teams in six games for the Buffalo Bills last season and for two snaps in the 2012 season finale for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He was selected by the Bills on the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the 178th overall, from the University of Oregon.

Asper was waived on Aug. 31, 2012 and awarded the next day to the Minnesota Vikings, who released him on Dec. 22. He joined the Jaguars two days later.

Jacksonville waived Asper on Aug. 26, 2013 and the Bills signed him to their practice squad on Sept. 2 and to their active roster on Oct. 15. He was waived by Buffalo yesterday.

Asper was a three-year starter at the University of Oregon.

Photos from Monday's #GiantsCamp practice

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