EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is using crutches to get around the team's facility this week, but he cast them aside before coming out in a walking boot to address assembled media Tuesday.
Manning's message, as he always tries to make it, is that there's nothing to worry about -- that the ankle surgery he had a couple of weeks ago was the right move at the right time and that it shouldn't affect the Giants' 2014 season.
"I think I'm safe to say I'll be 100 percent by the start of training camp," Manning said. "I would hope so."
Manning had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle April 10. At that time, he and the team said he expected to be cleared to start running again in six weeks. But cleared to run doesn't necessarily mean cleared to practice.
The Giants begin OTA workouts in the last week of May and have a mandatory minicamp June 17-19. It's unclear whether Manning will be ready for those on-field activities, and that was part of the reason the team added Josh Freeman to its backup quarterback corps last week.
If Manning can make it back in time for that work, great. If not, the Giants have people in place who can operate the new offense as everyone else gets used to it.
"My No. 1 concern is getting back healthy," Manning said. "No. 2 is learning the playbook."
The Giants are doing a lot of studying this week of the offense being installed by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Guard Chris Snee said they'd spent the first two days on run concepts and hadn't even addressed passing concepts yet. But wide receiver Victor Cruz said that Manning had a pretty good understanding of the differences in the route concepts and worked on them with Cruz and others when they were at Manning's annual passing camp at Duke University.
Manning spoke Tuesday of getting "mental reps," meaning the classroom and film room time to which he'll be limited until his ankle heals enough to allow him to take the field, and he said he believed his experience as a 10-year veteran -- even though it's all been in Kevin Gilbride's offense -- would help him pick up the new offense quickly.
"It's a little different from 10 years ago when I was a rookie in the NFL," Manning said. "I have an understanding of the game of football better. A lot of it is the same thing said differently, and there are a lot of differences, but I think it'll be OK."
Manning said he had no regrets about the timing of his surgery. Prior to the Duke camp, he'd received a cortisone shot that he said helped alleviate the pain, but he and his doctors still weren't happy with the way the ankle was healing from a sprain suffered in the season finale against Washington. So the decision to have the surgery was made at that time to allow Manning time to recover before camp.
"It ended up being a smart idea, because when they went in there with the scope, they found some things that needed to be cleaned out," Manning said. "Once the shot wore off, we didn't know how it was going to feel. So do you have the procedure then? Do you play injured? This was the right decision at the right time."
He also addressed the rumor that he injured his ankle playing basketball, which surfaced after he, his brother and some teammates were photographed on Duke's basketball court. Manning was holding a basketball in the photo.
"We went and shot baskets at the Duke facility. I was not playing basketball," Manning said. "I did not injure it playing basketball. I think at that point, my procedure was already scheduled for the next day."