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Eli Manning, 10.14.09

Q. How are you feeling this week compared to how you were feeling at this time last week?

A. I feel a lot better. Great practice today, did everything I wanted to do, so I’m feeling a lot better and moving around and excited about where I am.

Q. Two undefeated teams and also talk about going to your hometown of New Orleans?

A. It is a great setup; should be a great game. New Orleans is playing really well, got a lot of great players, offensively, defensively. We know we have to get out there and play our best football. My first time playing in the Superdome, been in there many, many times and looking forward to that experience.

Q. How important was it for you to go out last week and be able to play the first half?

A. I think it was important for me to go out there and just play and get used to being on it and just going out there and really trying to go about my business and seeing how it feels. It felt good. I felt I could make all the plays, I could move around the pocket and do everything that I need to do to execute the offense and put us in a good situation.

Q. Your relationship with your wide receivers, it just seems to build each week…

A. I think the guys are getting better each week. They are learning. There are still some things that we could improve on. That is including myself. We continue to grow as a unit and as an offense. That’s their work ethic, what they do everyday, asking questions, learning and they are not making the same mistake twice, which is what you want to see from a young receiving corps.

Q. Everyone has been talking about the Saints offense, but what about their defense?

A. Their defense is playing really well. They cause a lot of turnovers, a lot of interceptions, they make a lot of big plays defensively. They are very sound. They mix it up, they play a lot of different looks. We have to be very well prepared offensively. They have gone into some games and shown some different things. They had a whole new game plan kind of depending on who they were playing. There is going to be some new stuff, I assume, that we haven’t seen yet but we have to be prepared for all the looks they have given so far and be prepared for something new. They are very talented and they make a lot of big plays. We’ve got to take care of the ball and play great on offense.

Q. How about the acoustics of the Superdome?

A. Yeah, it’s loud. I expect it to be very loud and the fans to be fired up for the game. I have been a part of the screaming and yelling and trying to make it hard on other quarterbacks. So, I know how the fans think and they are going to be loud. We have played in loud places before, we just have to get out there and communicate very well this week, make sure we are on the same page and go out there and do the same on Sunday.

Q. How does it feel to be going home?

A. I am excited about it. First time playing in the Superdome, ever, for any level of football. I am excited about getting the opportunity to play where my father spent most of his career, going to back to New Orleans and playing New Orleans, who is playing very well this year. Two undefeated teams. It should be a great atmosphere.

Q. Do you think any of the fans down there will be pulling for you?

A. No, I don’t think so. They will be rooting for the home team. I have to go out there and do the best I can do and try to play good football.

Q. Has the trip back to New Orleans been a blip on the radar?

A. Ever since I have been in the NFL, the opportunity to play in the Superdome and go back to New Orleans. It’s been a long wait, usually you don’t have to wait this long to play an NFC team. We missed an opportunity a few years ago due to Katrina. I’m excited about going back there and playing in the Superdome, but also the environment of the game. It is going to be a good game, the fans are going to be fired up for it, so I am looking forward to it.

Q. Have you been swamped with ticket requests?

A. Yeah, quite a few tickets. My dad has kind of been in charge of that. That’s his job this week, he is handling all ticket requests. I have a few that I have to take care of, but we have quite a few people going.

Q. Coach Coughlin is saying that he is going to ‘manage’ your injury. How are you going to ‘manage’ your injury?

A. You just have to be smart. I am communicating with Coach Coughlin, communicating with Coach Palmer. Just on being smart about the plays and what I want to do and how much I want to push it. Make sure I don’t overdue things and make it worse and make it more sore the next day. Everyday I believe it has improved and I want to keep continuing  to do that.

Q. What have you already told Tom about how much you want to push it at this point?

A. It is really just on my call. I kind of see the plays and we have a script. I go over the plays with Coach Palmer, what I want to get, what I need to do. A new play, I might want to run, something that I feel I don’t need to run, I’ll sit out and have David (Carr) take it.

Q:  Just given your personality, do you actually have to be careful (?) a little bit emotionally?

A:  Emotionally?

Q:  Because of where you are playing?

A:  No, I don’t think so.  I don’t think it is going to be any different emotionally for me.  I think once you get out there on the field and get your settings and your surrounding, I think it is just about going out there and playing good football.  I don’t think I’ll be crying or anything before the game.

Q: Darren Sharper?

A:  I’ve kept him in the Pro Bowl many years.  I know he likes facing me.  But he is a good player.  Obviously I’m not the only one who he has made plays against.  He has got four or five interceptions this year, a couple for touchdowns. He is a smart player. He reads and reacts and he will guess and he will take some chances. You have to keep your eye on him and try to play smart.

Q. Has the city recovered from Katrina?

A. I was back a good bit in the offseason. My parents still live there, my older brother Cooper and his family are there and I have a lot of friends still. I go back and visit a good bit. I was there probably in July the last time. The city is, from what I see when I go back home, the city has a great personality, always a good time, great restaurants and very entertaining.

Q. How big of a Saints fan were you growing up?

A. I was a big Saints fan. I pretty much went to every home game there was. I traveled with my dad when I was younger. I rooted for the Saints every week, went to a lot of games. I was at their first playoff win. I have been to a lot of their big games and have been a big fan for a long time.

Q. Who were your favorite players growing up?

A. Quarterback Bobby Hebert, John Fourcade. They had great defenses then. Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, Rickey Jackson. Great linebackers, the Dome Patrol.

Q. Did you ever dream of playing for the Saints one day?

A. Not really.

Q. How far is your parents’ house from the Superdome?

A. Probably ten minutes away, not far.

Q. So you are basing your practice off ofdo I need to work on this play or not?

A. Yeah, it’s based by the play. I would like to get all the plays. But some of it is Coach Palmer saying ‘Hey, take a break.’ If it is a play I really want to get, then I’ll go get it. If it is something that isn’t going to do me any good to get, then I will let David get it and just try to be smart about managing and not push too much and don’t make it anymore swollen.

Q. Now that you have seen the film of the Saints defense, how much does Gregg Williams influence that?

A. Yeah, it’s his defense. A lot of different schemes based by the game and some of it is the stuff he ran back at Washington and some of it is new stuff. But they can be very aggressive. I am sure they will have something new, something different that we have to be prepared for and make adjustments when it comes in the game. We have to have great communication throughout the whole game.

Q. Is it a blitz heavy defense?

A. Yeah, it is. Again, they have had a different scheme for each game. They do like to bring pressure and different stuff, not stuff you see every week. You really have to prepare for it and have the whole team keyed in on what is going on.