Giants Eli Manning on the Victor Cruz situation
Q: Do you have any concerns at this point with Victor Cruz?s situation?
A: Obviously, I don?t have any control of it. I don?t know when it?s going to occur. So right now I can work on getting myself better, getting in shape, getting stronger, working with the guys here making sure we?re doing everything we can to improve and make corrections, look at the film from last year and see what areas we need to work on and improve on and go out there and just try and do the best we can do.
Q: With Victor participating in the workouts at Duke last week, does that give you an indication that he wants to be a Giant this year?
A: I hope he wants to be here, but obviously they got the contract to work out and they got things to figure out. I can?t concern myself with that. When that gets worked out he?ll come back and come back to work.
Q: Did he seem frustrated with the situation down there?
A: No. We didn?t talk about it much.
Q: Working out with your receivers last week, did you come away accomplishing what you had hoped to?
A: Yeah. I really think it was just to get some work. A lot of times once you come back here, you?re lifting weights; you?re meeting and doing things. Sometimes it?s hard to get on the field for as much time as you would like, to get all the throwing you would like to get in just because you got to worry about overworking guys that just lifted their legs on Mondays and Thursdays, so you can?t really run them on those days when you?re working out here these first couple of weeks. We had five practices in three days. It was drill work for them. Just catching balls. It was a lot of drill work for me and then working on some routes, working on some specific things where we felt we needed to improve on.
Q: Tuck had mentioned that he feels like Victor should be here in good faith. Will you try and pry him at some point to come in and participate?
A: No. I?m not going to pry him. He?s got to do what?s the best interest of him and that?s usually staying away and putting pressure to try to get the deal done.
Q: How much of an issue was it in the passing game with your timing and patterns being off?
A: No. I don?t think there?s one issue. Obviously having Hakeem hurt for most of the year was a factor. When he was playing in the middle of the year and end of the year he wasn?t himself and you can see that on the film clearly. So it would be great to have him back full speed healthy, making the plays that he normally makes. Some throws were just a little bit off. We didn?t hit the big plays that we normally do and I think that was a big part of our passing game not being as effective, just not hitting those shots down the field and a lot of that is on me and making better throws. You can look at each play and each one might have a different reason in why it wasn?t successful. It?s about trying to find the common trends and fixing those.
Q: Have you talked to the front office about your contract in order to help the Cruz situation?
A: No. I haven?t talked to anybody about it. When you restructure, it doesn?t really affect the pay. It?s just the way it is of kind of moving things around. It doesn?t really affect me. It affects the organization and how the cap works and trying to make room and it makes it better for this year and worse for next year, that?s usually how it works. No. I have not had any discussions yet.
Q: How much do you guys depend on the good health and production of Cruz and Nicks?
A: It?s not just those two. That?s the great thing about football. It?s all 11 guys doing their job. We had to have that third receiver. Mario Manningham in 2011, who we had making some deep throws, getting down the field. So we need Rueben Randle or Louis Murphy to step into that role this year to give us an opportunity to hit some balls down the field and stretch the field. Obviously, we have a new tight end this year. We need Brandon to step up and Martellus did a good job for us last year getting some catches and making some first downs and creating some mismatches, so hopefully he can provide that for us. It?s just a matter of being consistent; executing well and when you have opportunities to make the plays you got to be making them.
Q: The deadline for teams being able to submit offer sheets for Victor Cruz. Do you have an eye on that deadline and hope after that you might see him here?
A: I have a feeling I?ll see Victor here when the contract is done. That?s my gut feeling. I could be wrong, but if he?s back earlier then that would be a bonus.
Q: In terms of a long-term contract for Victor?
A: I would think so. I think that?s the goal.
Q: How did Hakeem look at Duke to you that may indicate to you that he?s on the road to better health?
A: I think it?s still a work in progress. He?s been getting treatment and rehabbing this offseason. We?re in a situation where we?re going to go and push him and we still have time before OTAs and minicamps and the start of the season. We did test him on a few things and he looked good and seemed to recover quickly, so that?s very promising. The most important thing is that he is 100 percent once the season starts and when we can get work and he?s feeling great and we can go out there and get a lot of reps with practice. We need that as well. We need to get back to fundamentals and practice and making sure everything is being done the way it should be.
Q: Have you given some thought about the running game without Ahmad Bradshaw? Do the talents of Andre Brown and David Wilson help the offense?
A: Hopefully it makes it stronger and obviously with Andre, who was playing well for us at times before he got injured, he still brings speed and power. With David you have a guy with outstanding speed so we try get ways to get him in the open field and get the ball in his hands and see if he can make some big runs for us. That?s kind of up to the coaches to see if our running game will change much and see what he does best. That will come once we get into practices and see how he fits into our offense and put him in a position to use his skills to help out the offense as much as possible.
Q: Some of the guys said they want to be the first team that can host and play in the Super Bowl. Do you share those thoughts?
A: Yeah. The goal is to make the Super Bowl every year and to bring a championship home. Obviously, it would be very special to play it in your home stadium in front of your home crowd. That would obviously be very, very unique and great, but ultimately our focus this year is kind of one day at a time and making sure we?re getting better, we?re making the playoffs and then from there hopefully we can make a strong run and have the opportunity to win a championship.
Q: Can you talk about playing Peyton this year?
A: I would be careful. When we were at Duke together I was trying to kind of ask his receivers some questions about some of their reads and hots and what their defense was doing a little bit, but I think he had prepared them pretty well not to tell me anything. We haven?t talked about it a whole lot. More kind of joking and jabs at each other, but obviously anytime you play your brother it is special. It is unique and I cherish those moments whether before the game or looking across during the national anthem and seeing my big brother and seeing him at the coin flip; those are great moments that we?ll cherish and hopefully the Giants will get a win for once.
Q: When the date of that game is announced tonight, how will that affect your parent?s planning in the fall?
A: I think they kind of had that game circled. My parents will probably be attending. Obviously, they don?t know the date of it. I never know though. Maybe they might want to stay home and stay away from the hoopla. So we?ll have to see how they?ll approach it. I?m kind of just more concerned with seeing who are first game is going to be and go from there.
Q: Would you rather have the Manning Bowl over with earlier in the season?
A: Probably earlier. Probably not the first game of the season so I don?t have to talk about it for the next four months. I have a feeling it will probably come early. I could be wrong. I have a feeling it will be those first couple of weeks and it?s probably the best way to do it and kind of get it over with and put it all behind us.
Q: When you first get the schedule of the season, what?s the most important thing for you?
A: I really concentrate on who that first game is against and whether you?re home or away. You kind of look at when you have Sunday night games or Monday night games or where your Thursday night game is or where your bye week is. It?s not really game planning or setting up a strategy. It?s just kind of curiosity of how it?s all going to lay out and when are your division games. Those are kind of the main things I look at.
Q: With the Super Bowl here, do you have to be careful as team to not get too ahead of yourselves?
A: I think so. We missed the playoffs last year. That?s the goal. You can?t win a championship if you don?t make the playoffs. It is about doing whatever it takes and making sure we?re putting ourselves in position to make the playoffs towards the end of the season and then excelling at the end of the season to finish that job to put us in an opportunity to make it to those final teams and then it?s what you can do there. Who can get hot, who can be playing the best football at the end of the year when it counts and that?s the most important thing.
Q: What impression did Conner Vernon make on you working out with him?
A: Having followed Duke the last couple of years with Coach Cutlcliffe, I?ve seen him catch a lot of balls and a lot of touchdowns. He?s worked with us at Duke the last couple of years. A couple of years I went there and was doing a lot of seven on seven with running Duke?s offense he kind of just kept getting open. I found myself throwing a lot of balls to him. He does have some talent.