As he rehabs from left knee surgery, New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham has been able to get reacquainted with New York. Following two years with the San Francisco 49ers, Manningham returns to the place where he began his career, the New York Giants.
Thing is, the Giants' offense is markedly different than the one he left in 2011. Ben McAdoo is in as offensive coordinator, bringing with him a West Coast system from the Green Bay Packers. That should be no problem for Manningham, though: the 49ers are well known for their own West Coast system.
"I just left the same offense," Manningham said after the Giants' mini-camp on Wednesday. "So that's kind of a good thing."
When asked for some differences he's noticed between McAdoo's offense -- which is admittedly still being implemented in New York -- and the last one he played in with the Giants, Manningham said, "More freedom, more one-on-one. More open space, more opportunities."
That sounds promising, and his return is a welcome one for Giants fans who not only remember his incredible sideline catch in Super Bowl XLVI, but also recognize the team's significant need for another consistent receiver. Hakeem Nicks left in free agency, and aside from Victor Cruz, the Giants are relying heavily on third-year veteran Rueben Randle and rookie Odell Beckham Jr.
Manningham, a third-round pick of the Giants in 2008, hasn't yet joined the team in practice. He's expected back for training camp, though after two knee surgeries in as many years, nothing's assured. Toward the end of the 2012 season, the seventh-year veteran had major reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL and PCL in his left knee. Manningham admitted to coming back too early last season, and the knee remains an issue.
"It was frustrating, of course. But you have to overcome everything, man," he said. "Everything isn't set up to be the way that you want to it. I had an injury, I'm going to deal with it and do what I've got to do to come back the way I left."
The injuries limited Manningham to two frustrating seasons with the 49ers. After signing a two-year, $7.375 million contract in 2012, he played in 12 games, started 10 and hauled in 42 catches for 449 yards and one touchdown. The following season, he was limited to just six games, three starts and nine catches for 85 yards.
After the 49ers let him walk, the Giants brought back Manningham on a one-year deal in March. They knew full well he wouldn't be healthy by the start of OTAs or minicamp, so there hasn't been a rush to get him back on the field.
"It's the post-surgical rehab that we knew was going to be the issue," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "Hopefully he'll be okay for camp.
"[The 49ers] were a better team with him on the field, believe me. Two years ago before he got hurt, he made a big difference with them."
For what it's worth, Manningham said Tuesday he still expects to be the same player. The Giants' offense has changed, and so has the roster as a whole, considering the team underwent one of the more dramatic makeovers in the league this offseason.
Still, there's a comfort level in New York that Manningham says has him feeling glad to be back.
"When I came back, I just fit in exactly like i never left," he said. "Guys here are cool. We're joking around still, but we know we have a mission. We know what we've got to do."