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Giants’ QB Eli Manning talks sweaty centers, wet balls, and unconventional training

Eli once again turned from the gridiron to the baseball diamond in his training

NFL: New York Giants-Training Camp Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Eli Manning is getting ready to be the first player in New York Giants history to start a sixteenth season with the franchise.

Eli has talked before — and we’ll get back to it in a bit — about how hard he is working to make sure he physically ready for the rigors of an NFL season. But something he hasn’t really shared has been his mentality, his motivation, for continuing to work so he can play.

Why does he do it? Not for a paycheck or for his legacy. Eli wants to get back to that winning feeling.

“I think my motivation is more it’s a desire to win,” he said. “It’s the desire to chase that feeling of winning games. What that feels like in the locker room, what it feels like to get on a hot streak and win four or five in a row. The excitement, the attitude, winning a playoff game, and getting that feeling of winning a championship, and the things you get to experience when you go through those scenarios and try to prove someone else wrong, so I think that’s my personal motivation.”

Eli looks to baseball

As the 2019 MLB trade deadline looms, one of the biggest questions around New York is “Will the Yankees be able to find starting pitching?”

Their search likely won’t lead them to making an offer to the Giants for the services of Eli Manning — though I’m pretty sure Aaron Judge would make one hell of a tight end. But if the Bronx Bombers do get desperate for an addition to their rotation, Eli has been looking to baseball training practices to help get (and keep) his arm in shape for the 2019 season.

“I just mixed up where I was working out and what I was doing,” Manning said. “The year before I was here a bunch, I got my own trainer this year. I went to the baseball world, I’ve done that in the past. We’ve gone into that field a little bit more, relative to throwers and quarterbacks. Just working hard on the weight training parts of it and keeping my legs strong and feeling healthy and making sure things are working properly. A lot of arm care, just keeping my arm strong or improve my arm strength at this level. I feel like it has paid off, I’m throwing the ball well. The arm is staying strong, (Staying after practice) three or four days after practice to not lose it which is what happens in training camp sometimes. You have four practices in a row, if you are not used to it, you can see your arm getting tired and it’s still feeling strong and coming out good.”

As Eli mentions, this isn’t the first time he has gone to the baseball side of things for different ways to help strengthen or maintain his arm. Throwing a baseball and throwing a football are different enough that the two disciplines have different training techniques, and Manning believes that incorporating some of baseball’s training helps keep his arm healthy.

“In football training, not everybody is doing as much shoulder rotator cuff or core as a quarterback needs,” Manning said. “In the offseason, some of those lower body lifts are similar or the same, but I think just taking the time, you have to start early, get your movements right, get your functionality right, and get stronger in your legs, because that helps your arm strength. It all generates from your lower half, your core, and your agility. I think that’s good, and obviously there is a whole other element to the arm, and how much requires to stay on top of it. You kind of get a plan that takes you into the offseason and into the season, so stay on that and get a plan of how much to keep doing that because as a quarterback you are throwing a lot more. You probably have to break down some of the arm care but still do enough where you’re staying strong.”

Practicing in the heat

It isn’t exactly breaking news that summer is hot, but for those who have never been to the Meadowlands, the proper adjective is probably something like “sweltering.”

*I’ve always been partial to “muggy,” as most summers in the Hudson Valley it feels as though the weather is sticking you up for something you just don’t have.

But however you describe it, practicing in the summer heat carries with it certain risks — from the serious concerns of hydration to things like sweaty centers and wet balls.

“Hydration is huge,” Eli said. “Just make sure you are mentally prepared for it and not cramping up. It’s good, it’s good to get hot and have these practices to test guys mentally. When it gets hot and you are changing plays, cadences and receivers, they have to be dialed in. It always becomes a wet ball drill with these snaps on a hot day and the centers and what’s going on with them.”

“It’s good,” he added, “you aren’t always going to get a dry ball, conditions aren’t going to be perfect. It tests everybody’s mentality, you want to make it hard on them and test them mentally because that will prepare us for that game. We only get 25 plays with the ones in a practice, in a game you are going to have 60 plays, we have to get ready for that.”

Dealing with a beaten up receiving corps

Even though it’s only a week old, the Giants’ training camp has already felt like a long one, particularly for the wide receivers. While Sterling Shepard is expected back — hopefully before week one — the Giants were expecting big things from Corey Coleman this year. His torn ACL is a disappointment for the team as well as the locker room.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” Eli said, “I feel bad for Corey Coleman with the ACL. Hopefully we can get Slayton back, Shep will hopefully be back soon. He’s at least able to run routes and be able throw some routes. We don’t want him to get in bad habits, he has to catch everything with one hand. Not throwing him the ball but we can have him run the route full speed. I can look at him, I can see his body language and still kind of get some timing stuff. When he comes back from the thumb he won’t be a step behind.”

But while the Giants have players sidelined or limited by injury, that creates opportunities for reps with other players down the depth chart.

Eli said, “I think it’s a great opportunity to get Cody going and get some of these young receivers going. Getting Bennie Fowler and Evan Engram moving around. I think its an opportunity for other guys to step up and see what they do. It hasn’t affected our offense in the sense that we are not able to go out there and execute the against the defense.”

“I thought Cody had a great offseason last year,” Eli said. “Coming into the season, he was going to play well. Unfortunately, he had the injury and missed a lot of time, but came back that last game and played really well versus Dallas. I think he’s come on strong, he can really run, he knows all of his assignments, he’s dialed into what we are doing and he’s made some nice plays for us. He’s a big target who can also stretch the field and he’s having a great camp so far.”

While the Giants signed Amba Etta-Tawo and TJ Jones, the injury to Coleman and looming suspension of Golden Tate gives Latimer a chance to once again lock down the second or third receiver job. It would certainly do the Giants’ offense good to have a dependable outside receiver step up.