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New York Giants Notes: Praise For Eli Edition

Here is some Sunday reading material to keep you occupied while you wait for today's 4:15 p.m. kickoff against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Giants will be missing a Pro Bowl wide receiver today. They will be using an offensive line missing two veteran starters. Despite all of that, they are confident that they will play well. Why? Because they still have Eli Manning at quarterback.

"Eli is the most underrated guy in the league," [Ramses] Barden says. "He's so smart, he's so disciplined, and he does a great job of communicating on the field. He makes it easier on us."

"He's always done an outstanding job with his game preparation checks," Tom Coughlin adds. "He gets us in literally the right play a very high percentage of the time. He's using his head and shoulders very well to pull and maneuver people out of position, and then taking advantage of that."

Manning is on pace statistically for the best season of his career. He still occasionally makes an astoundingly bad decision on a throw, and takes those annoying delay of game penalties. If you can't recognize how good he is, though, I'm not sure what you are watching. Or, what you are looking for in a quarterback.

Another guy getting some well-deserved praised today in Giants' offensive line coach Pat Flaherty.

"He’s constantly teaching us. And ‘Flats’ knows as much about defenses as he does about offenses, which is something a lot of guys aren’t used to," [Shaun] O’Hara said, utilizing yet another nickname. "He understands safeties, coverages, schemes and exactly how defensive guys are going to play us.

"So we’re not just studying fronts. We understand the concepts of why they’re doing what they’re doing. That alone makes us better offensive linemen than other guys."

Flaherty is in his 11th season with the Giants. I have to admit. I have barely ever even thought about who coaches the Giants' excellent offensive line.

Ramses Barden figures to play a lot more with Steve Smith sidelined for at leas the next two weeks. The 6-foot-6 second-year man from Cal Poly talks like he is ready to step in.

As a backup who’s low on the depth chart, Barden said he has needed to learn every receiver position in case a player such as Smith is out.

"If there’s an issue — somebody gets tired, somebody gets a hangnail — I need to be prepared to go in at every position," Barden said. "This week, it just happens to be the slot. I’m as prepared for that position as any other. ...

"As a competitor, you always want to get on the field, and you never want it at the misfortune of somebody else," Barden said. "But at the same time, it’s a business, and when somebody goes down, we need to find ways to pick it up until that person comes back. I’m sure (Smith will) be back as soon as possible."