The Giants were off Tuesday and for many players it was sorely needed, with the emphasis on sore.
That’s what happens when a team is riding a five-game winning streak with each game basically being do-or-die. The mental stress is comparable to the physical beating these men take, particularly in last Sunday’s NFC Championship game, so Tuesday’s non-workout day was a nice offering from head coach Tom Coughlin.
Safety Antrel Rolle, who’s been as active as any Giant during this playoff stretch, said he’s actually grateful for the respite. He feels the two-week pause in action will benefit him.
“I have to be honest and say I’m not too antsy [to play right away]. This trip has been an exhausting one and a lot of hard work, putting everything into these five games. This is very much needed,” Rolle said. “This took a lot of mental space and physical pounding to do whatever it takes to get to this point. Once we’re here we’re not going to stop but we’re going to enjoy this little time off. But once we come back to work on Thursday I’ll be ready and it’ll be full speed again.”
Defensive end Justin Tuck was contrary to Rolle, saying he preferred to play this Sunday, going back to the not-too-distant past when the conference championship game was only a week before the Super Bowl. Tuck, who’s dealt with a plethora of physical maladies this season, said the overwhelming adrenaline rush trumps his physical exhaustion.
“I don’t think it’ll be that challenging [taking a break]. It’s the Super Bowl and we expect to see everybody’s best in this game. But would I like to play on Sunday? Absolutely. The roll we’ve been on lately you almost don’t want to have this break,” Tuck admitted. “But you take [breaks] for what they are and you make the best out of it. Your body needs some healing and you take the opportunity to do that and it also gives you more time to study your football team.”
Tuck then said as a veteran he’s seen it all and he’s confident the extra week of preparation won’t hinder the Giants. Emotions carry a player a long way in the NFL and it’ll only be multiplied come Super Sunday, he said.
“It’s good and bad, but by next Sunday I think everybody’s emotions will be as high as ever been,” Tuck said. “Regardless if you’ve played in the Super Bowl before or haven’t guys will be happy to play. This game is the cream of the crop.”
Quarterback Eli Manning didn’t have a preference either way concerning the extra week. He said he was more concerned with preparation and how the guys who’ve never gotten this far use their free time.
Whether he wants to admit it or not, Manning has a lot riding on this game, particularly for his legacy. But for him it’s more about the team maximizing their opportunities to be as sharp as they can when they face the Patriots. Manning said during Tuesday’s team meeting he briefed the team on what to expect, and more importantly, how to handle the circus that is the Super Bowl.
“How to prepare for this and to handle your business before [they leave],” Manning said when asked what he told his teammates. “The mindset this week is that we need great preparation and to prepare this week like you’re preparing for a game because once you get out to Indianapolis the whole schedule gets thrown off, like taking a bus to practice. … We’re trying to keep the same routine and get the mindset to do everything we normally do here and try to get it mostly done this week.”
Linebacker Michael Boley is one of those first timers and said while he’s cherishing the experience of his first extended playoff run, he’s taking this week as all business. Boley has had an injury-riddled season, but sounded as if he was all too anxious to get on the practice field.
The former Falcon noted being a seven-year veteran and playing in only one playoff game until this season has ripened his focus and made him hungry to not let this opportunity slip away.
“We won the [49ers] game and we’ll fondly look back at that game and enjoy it, but once work starts again it’ll be back to work,” Boley said. “It’s business time and we’ll put the past in the past and leave it there.”
Big Blue notes
» Manning said by the time the team leaves for Indianapolis on Monday, a vast majority of the gameplan will have already been installed: “Everything is in [by the time they leave]. I’d say it will be about 95 percent complete. Maybe a few wrinkles here and there when we’re down there, but most of the preparation is done here.”
Manning also warned his teammates to prepare for an atmosphere like none other. He said to coordinate routines now while still in their comfy confines and try to keep them as customary as possible in Indianapolis. He told his team whether it’s “getting a massage” at a certain time, “putting in the usual extra film study” or “getting treatment,” every player should already have that mapped out beforehand, because the Super Bowl atmosphere can swallow you up if they’re not careful: “It’s important to get the extra preparation this week. Once you get to Indianapolis your routine gets thrown off. You want to keep your normal week routines as much as possible and try to continue that over there. It’s important to stay in your rhythm and continue your routines and work around [the craziness].”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for all your coverage leading up to the Super Bowl.