Eli Manning, Giants return to practice refreshed after bye week
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If Eli Manning's arm comes out of the bye as energized as his vocabulary, the Giants should be in fine shape. The quarterback used uncharacteristically colorful words to describe his throwing in Monday's practice -- words such as "pop," "fire" and "lively" -- after a week away from football.
Manning maintains that his arm was not tired before the bye, but he seems to think that the rest did him and his arm strength some good.
"It was coming out where I wanted it to," Manning said of the footballs he was throwing in a short but spirited welcome-back workout. "I think it definitely had a little bit more pop to it. That's something, you take a week off and you definitely get a little bit more fire. It was coming out good."
There was public speculation prior to the Bengals game that some of the Giants' offensive woes could be traced to a tired right arm of the franchise quarterback. Manning denied that was the case, and dismissed it again Monday.
"I didn't think there was anything to it," he said. "In practices, I thought I was throwing the ball well. I felt no fatigue. Obviously in the course of a season, you may not realize it, but today, my arm felt good."
"He's good," Cruz said. "He looked sharp. We were out there completing the football. We were on the same page. Everybody was running good routes, lots of positive things. I'm excited to go out there on Sunday and put it on the field."
Manning and the Giants even focused on some of the plays that have eluded the Giants in their recent losses, the long passes. "Threw some deep ones and didn't have to struggle to get it out there," Manning said. "It was just coming out well."
Naturally, after a week without football, that's what everyone would expect. The bye gives players old and new a chance to rest their bodies (and minds) and come back refreshed for a run toward the playoffs.
"Usually after the bye," Manning said, "you have a little bit more pep in your step and your arm is a little bit more lively."
He wasn't the only one who felt that way. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said he essentially shut his body down during the bye to rest. Nicks has been working through foot and knee injuries all season, but he said Monday that he feels as healthy as he has since his offseason foot surgery. He's not 100 percent, he said, but he knows this is as close to 100 percent as he will get.
"I'm feeling good and ready to get after it," Nicks said. "My bursting wasn't there the way I felt like it should have been due to some injuries, but I'm feeling pretty good now and that time off helped me get my body right and most of all my mind right for this stretch. I'm just ready to get it going."
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was another player who said he benefited from the time off. Bradshaw had a neck injury in the Bengals game but said tests showed no damage and he'll play through his ailments. As he had been. As many of the Giants had been. As maybe even Manning had been.
"We just want to get back to playing great as an offense," Nicks said. "I think that's our goal. We just have to get back to that high-flying offense that we're capable of being."