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MNF preview: Could be Eli’s last start for the Giants

Eli Manning of the New York Giants makes a pass during their game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 15, 2019 in East Rutherford, N.J. (Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Eli Manning of the New York Giants makes a pass during their game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 15, 2019 in East Rutherford, N.J. (Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Might this be Eli Manning’s swan song performance with the New York Giants? Yup. In prime time to boot.

As his 16 th and likely final season with the Giants winds to a disappointing close (not just for him), the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback suddenly last week found himself thrust back into the thick of things, offensively.

Rookie Daniel Jones, who replaced Manning in Week 3, suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s home-field loss to Green Bay, which dropped New York’s record to 2-10. He couldn’t practise this past week. Manning took all the first-week reps.

On Monday night, the Giants play at the 5-7 Philadelphia Eagles, in a game loaded with playoff importance for the home side (8:15 p.m. EST, TSN via ESPN). No doubt it’s important for Manning, too.

In his typically polite, non-disruptive, ever-positive manner, the 38-year-old would not even admit last week that the previous 11 weeks of watching Jones take all the game snaps was difficult.

“A little different, trying to adjust to it,” he said, “(but) always being prepared to go.

“Trying to get Daniel as prepared as possible each week. I faced a lot of the teams that we have been playing, looking through old notes and tips on trying to diagnose defences. Also, trying to get myself ready to play each week.”

Jones was spotted on the Giants practise field on Saturday, without a walking boot. Might Jones return to game action next Sunday, at home against Miami? Giants head coach Pat Shurmur on Saturday did not rule that out.

“We’ll have to see,” Shurmur said. “He didn’t practise this week, and we’ll just have to see when we come back to practice next Wednesday how much he can do. Then we’ll take it from there.”

Shurmur added that he “absolutely” was encouraged by Jones’ rapid progress.

All of which means that this might well be a one-game cameo back in the saddle for Manning — who, if he doesn’t retire at season’s end, is generally not expected to return to the Big Blue in 2020.

Shurmur commended Peyton’s younger brother for his unwavering professionalism during his nearly three months as second-stringer this fall.

“No matter what his role has been, he’s been the same every day,” Shurmur said. “Same energy level, and he’s had a great week of practice. I look forward to seeing him perform on Monday night.”

As for the Eagles, they’re in some kind of strange, reverse-success race with Dallas to win the NFC East. The Cowboys, after their latest ugly loss at Chicago on Thursday night, dropped below .500, to 6-7.

With a defeat of the Giants, the Eagles could join the Cowboys at 6-7, well ahead of 3-9 Washington and the two-win Giants.

The forecast for Monday night in Philadelphia calls for unseasonably warm temperatures — rising up past 16 C by game’s end — but likely in constant rain.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he didn’t change any practice routines because of the expected wet-grass conditions. But he said his team will be ready if they have to wear longer cleats, etc.

“I want them to understand that we can make those adjustments now, and prepare for that now,” Pederson said. “But as far as the play calls, you really don’t know until you see exactly, in game, how bad it’s raining, or the wind, at that time.”


Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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