New York Giants
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
The last time tight end Larry Donnell played against the Cowboys, he had two critical fumbles in the game that contributed to his team losing the game.
Those fumbles, as well as last week's failure to catch one of Eli Manning's fade passes thrown deep in 49ers territory, continue to haunt Donnell, who is in his first year as a NFL starting tight end.
"It just hurts me more than anything because I look at these guys in the locker room," he said. "I don't care about my stats. I look at those guys around me and how hard they worked, and how I had the ball in my hand and let it go, and that hurts me."
The good news is that Donnell said he is moving past those disappointments and is determined to redeem himself, especially against the Cowboys this weekend.
"Like Coach (Ben) Mac (McAdoo) said, 'Don't worry about it. It's gone; it's over.' If you think about that, you will be doing that the whole game so you let go, you move on and move forward. Let it be a constant reminder of the little things."
To make sure he doesn't lose the handle on the football again, Donnell said he has taken a piece of advice from his wife to heart.
"She told me to pretend the ball is my daughter," Donnell said, smiling. "At the beginning of the season I carried the ball loosely; now I hold onto it tight."
So far so good for Donnell, who hasn't fumbled since, though now he's hoping to get a chance to make up for the touchdown that he feels he should have had last week.
"I don't want to be a liability to my team, he said. "I'm here to make plays and when I don't, when I hurt my team, that really bothers me. So I need to make sure I'm doing all the little things I need to do so I'm helping things out."
There are still six games remaining before the 2014 season ends.
While quarterback Eli Manning would prefer to keep his focus squarely on each of those games as they come up, he did reflect a bit on his future with the team.
Manning, who will enter the final year of his contract next season, has had his ups and downs, most recently a down performance last week in which he was credited with throwing five interceptions, including one on a potential game-winning drive against the 49ers.
Despite his struggles at times this season, Manning has done well in his first year in Ben McAdoo's West Coast offense. He has completed 61.2% of his pass attempts for 2,495 yards and 18 touchdowns, and has cut down his interceptions to 11, with five of those coming last week.
What's more, he has done most of this so far without receiver Victor Cruz, who was lost for the season in Week 6 with a knee injury.
Still, all it took was one bad game reminiscent of last year's horror showing for people to start questioning if Manning is the right quarterback to lead the Giants back to the Promised Land.
Manning believes he is and he is hoping that next year, the final one on his contract, won't be his final year with the only pro team he has ever known.
"That's the best case scenario for sure," Manning said regarding retiring as a Giant.
"This is the only franchise I've been a part of and I think it's the best one. I don't want anything else but to be here and play here and win another championship."
Whether he will get that chance remains to be seen. The Giants are unlikely to address Manning's contract before the end of this season, and his future with the franchise could very well be tied into what happens with head coach Tom Coughlin, whose fate will be determined at the end of the year.
"I'm just going to try to do my job and do it well enough to where the franchise wants to keep me here," Manning said.
Does he believe he can deliver the goods for the Giants?
I do, I do. I felt I was throwing the ball, have been throwing the ball accurately and getting a feel for this offense," he said.
"I feel I can still make plays and run around and create plays and make all the throws. I still feel energized every week and work extremely hard and love what I'm doing. I don't take it for granted at all, and feel I can play at an extremely high level and take over games and do my job."
Offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, taking part in his first practice since being activated off the temporary injured reserve list, said he came through his first extensive practice with no issues.
"I felt good today. It was good to get back out there and work with the offense a little bit and get in game plan mode. Things went well from the perspective of my toe and I feel good."
Although he was shelved while recovering from a dislocated toe suffered in the preseason, Schwartz said he still went through his normal daily routine, doing everything except practice while his toe healed.
"I have been treating every week like I normally do as far as mentally," he said. "I am not the most athletic guy in the world, so I have to know where people are going to be. Film is a big thing of mine."
Schwartz, who won't know if he's playing in Sunday's game until later in the week-head coach Tom Coughlin wouldn't offer any clues as to his thinking for the first-year Giant either.
Schwartz did reveal that he split his snaps at tackle and guard as he has tried to regain a feel for things.
"I'll be fine. I have done this before. I have played sometimes sparingly and then had to play right away, like I did last year. You find ways to do it, and I'll be fine."
Quarterback Eli Manning is unimpressed with recent comments made by former teammate Tiki Barber regarding the future of head coach Tom Coughlin.
Barber, in a recent radio interview with The Best 980 in Los Angeles, came out with strong sentiments calling for Coughlin's dismissal after this season.
"The Giants players are not listening to Tom Coughlin anymore," Barber said. "As much as they want to pass the buck and 'Oh, it was the offensive coordinator, let's get rid of Kevin Gilbride and bring in Ben McAdoo.' And, 'Oh, now it's the defensive coordinator, so maybe it's time to get rid of Perry Fewell.'
"At some point, it trickles uphill and it has to be Tom Coughlin's responsibility. And it is time - and I've held off from saying this - for them to make a change (at head coach)."
The comments from Barber, who had his best seasons under Coughlin, aren't surprising. The former running back frequently clashed with Coughlin's more rigid structure, and even went so far as to blame Coughlin for his early retirement after the 2006 season, accusing the head coach of robbing him "of the joy I felt playing football" in his 2007 autobiography, "Tiki: My Life in the Game and Beyond."
In addition to Coughlin, Barber once took aim at Manning, whose leadership he once referred to as "almost comical".
Manning, who went on to blossom as a leader following Barber's retirement after the 2006 season, then went on to lead the Giants to the first of two Super Bowl championships in Coughlin's tenure.
Manning has often taken the high road when it comes to his former teammate, and did so again on Wednesday when asked for his reaction to Barber's calling for Coughlin to be fired.
"That's nice of him," Manning said with a straight face. "It's good to hear from old Tiki."
Manning was then asked if a former player's opinion calling for a coach to be fired can be a distraction.
"I think it depends on your opinion of that player," he said. "I think that can make a big difference in how you react to it."
Judging from Manning's demeanor, he is definitely not impressed.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 - Number of interceptions that the Giants have this season, which places them fifth in the league.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"Who's voting on that? Congratulations to Michael, I guess." QB Eli Manning when told that former teammate Michael Strahan was voted to "People" magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" list.