EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ryan Nassib has been a starting quarterback for the past three years. But he can't wait to come off the bench Saturday night in Pittsburgh when the Giants play the Steelers.
"It’s a dream to be able to play in an NFL game, regardless of [whether] it's preseason or regular season," Nassib said prior to Thursday's practice. "I’m excited, ready to get out there and play somebody else."
The Giants stunned many people when they traded up to draft Nassib in the fourth round back in April. After all, Eli Manning is still in his prime, and has started 135 consecutive games dating back to 2004 (146 if you include the playoffs).
But general manager Jerry Reese and company had been talking about developing a young QB behind Manning for a while, and were shocked the Syracuse signal-caller was still available that late.
The Giants threw Nassib into the fire early at training camp. He is currently No. 3 on the depth chart, behind Manning and David Carr, and ahead of Curtis Painter. But Nassib is getting more than his fair share of reps.
"Young guy with a lot of ability that’s trying to fight his way through all of the learning," coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday.
The growing pains continued in Thursday's practice. Nassib connected with wideout Julian Talley on a long bomb during 11-on-11 drills. But he also threw behind a couple of open receivers. And on the final play of practice, during a two-minute drill, he misfired on a pass that ended up in the hands of cornerback Laron Scott.
It was the second time in three days that practice ended with a Nassib interception by Scott. He has thrown four picks in three practices this week overall.
He doesn't sound discouraged, however.
"Some of the interceptions were just bad balls on my part or missed communication or plays that are kind of new that I had to learn on the fly," Nassib said. "Those INTs are a part of the learning process. You learn from them and try to move on."
The next test for Nassib will come Saturday. Manning will only get about 12-15 snaps, according to Coughlin. The coach wants to use all four of his quarterbacks, although he declined to be more specific about how much the other three will play, and in what order.
Nevertheless, it's a safe bet you'll see a decent dose of Nassib, considering how many reps he's been getting.
The Malvern, Pa. native will have some family members in attendance, and he's played at Heinz Field a couple of times before while at Syracuse, which may help.
But the rookie isn't putting too much pressure on himself as he gets ready to make his NFL debut.
"Coming into a new offense and trying to learn a whole new system, there’s going to be struggles every day, especially when you put in new stuff," Nassib said. "Really, my main emphasis to work on this weekend is to know what the game plan is, have that down and then, as we go on, continuing to improve."