EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** After Eli Manning underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery on April 10, the Giants thought they might not see their longtime quarterback on the football field until training camp.
The Giants this week are holding the first of their 10 organized team activities (OTAs) and Manning has taken his customary workload, with no obvious limitations. And no, he's not surprised.
"I think this was kind of my goal, to be back for OTAs," Manning said. "I had the surgery, it would be about seven weeks from the day until the first OTA, so I was hoping. They said … after the surgery it was going to be six weeks. They didn't really tell me if it was six weeks until I could start doing things or six weeks until I'm full speed. They said six weeks, so I kind of had it in my head that I should be ready. I knew early on after three weeks that I was feeling pretty good and could do a few things and was hoping that it could continue to heal quickly so I could be back for OTAs."
Also hardly shocked, but just as happy Manning is practicing, is head coach Tom Coughlin.
"He's so far ahead," Coughlin said. "When we started out I didn't think I would have him for anything. We're about two or three days into the phase two (when the offense and defense worked separately) and he's running around. I'm trying to slow him down but he feels good. I'm not surprised at all."
This is a critical offseason for Manning, who is learning the offense installed by new coordinator Ben McAdoo. It is the first time since he was a rookie 10 years ago that Manning has to memorize new terminology and plays. Every snap he takes on the field accelerates the process.
"I always want to be out there," Manning said. "I think this year having a new offense made me want to be out with the team, out running plays. Just the little things, calling the play in the huddle, hearing the play call and being able to visualize it quickly. If you miss part of it, you have to figure out what it is just by knowledge of the offense. All of those things are important. It's one thing to watch it from the sideline and think you know it spot-on, but sometimes you've got to be right there at the line of scrimmage and have to make important calls and changes and checks and reads. I think it's very important for me to be out there, and I wanted to be out there as soon as possible to get going for this offense."
Photos from Thursday's Giants OTA practice!
Coughlin said it is "huge" to have Manning on the field for the OTAs.
"He can get the reps during the spring here and he will have the offense down by the time we break (after the June minicamp)," Coughlin said. "Then come back and he'll be comfortable with it. We'll see it, we'll communicate it by virtue of signals or whatever. So this is really good. The other quarterbacks, as well. Ryan (Nassib) is getting a lot of work. That is a good thing."
This week provided a good test for Manning. Because of Memorial Day, the Giants will be on the field for three consecutive days for the only time prior to their minicamp (June 17-19).
"I don't plan on taking days off," Manning said. "This week, three practices in a row. Most weeks you'll have two and then a day off and then two more. We're seeing how it responded and today no swelling after practice, no discomfort, no issues. Just keep going about our business, keep getting better out there on the field and take it one day a time and see how it feels."
Manning had the surgery to speed the healing in his ankle, which he sprained in the Dec. 29 season finale vs. Washington. He decided to have the debridement procedure after experiencing discomfort during informal workouts early in the spring.
"It feels a lot better," Manning said. "That's why we did the surgery, because there was some discomfort. In running and doing drills I would notice it at times where, at this point, I don't notice it. I'm out there worried about football and not thinking one bit about my ankle. I know it definitely was the right decision to get this done and to knock it out where I won't have any more issues that I'll have to deal with later on in the season."
*Neither left tackle Will Beatty (rehabilitating a Dec. 29 leg fracture) nor wide receiver Mario Manningham (knee) have participated. Asked about them, Coughlin said, "Supposedly they'll be ready for the fall."
*Offensive lineman John Jerry, one of the veteran free agents signed by the Giants, is sidelined after having arthroscopic knee surgery.
"He's had a knee, he comes out here and the knee swells," Coughlin said. "We'll hold him inside. He had a little procedure (debridement of the knee), a scope, so he might not work this spring but he's here."