EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning's goal was always to be back in time for New York Giants OTA practices, even as every prognosis called it unlikely. But Manning doesn't miss time -- game or practice -- and sure enough, there the quarterback was Thursday, seven weeks removed from ankle surgery and practicing in full for the second day in a row.
"The last few weeks, I've been doing most things from a practice standpoint," Manning said. "We're still being smart about things and not trying to overdo it, but definitely, football activities, I feel like I can do them all full."
These OTA workouts are light workouts with no pads and no contact, but teams can run 11-on-11, 9-on-7 and 7-on-7 team drills. So Manning is taking snaps from center, dropping back, rolling out and throwing passes to his receivers, backs and tight ends. He says there's significant value in being on the field at this point, especially this year, with the Giants learning new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's offense.
"It's one thing to watch it from the sideline and think you know what's going on," Manning said. "But sometimes, you've got to be there at the line of scrimmage, making the calls, changing the calls, going through your progressions and doing it all."
Manning said he likes the new offense, that "everything makes sense," and that while the Giants are still quite early in the process of learning and practicing it, he believes he will be successful with it. He plans to be back out on the practice field Friday and again next week as long as he doesn't experience any unexpected pain or swelling in his surgically repaired ankle. He believes he's supposed to be practicing with his team, and his team thinks it's pretty impressive that he is.
"It gives us a lot of confidence to see him out there with us, not being tamed, not being shortened in any way," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "It's just amazing to see a guy that doesn't have to be out there -- who could take as much recovery time as he needs -- and he's out there working with us, learning the plays with us. It says a lot about his character and how he feels about our team."
Initially, when Manning had the surgery in early April, the Giants didn't expect him to work in OTAs or in next month's minicamp. Now, it appears as though he's in for a fairly normal offseason after all.
"Right now, I'm out there worried about football and not thinking one bit about my ankle," Manning said. "So I know it was definitely the right decision to get this done when we did."