At this time last year, Giants general manager Jerry Reese installed a running countdown clock in the locker room as a way to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.
Obviously that clock was null and void by the time the Giants began the season 0-6, which is why Reese decided to leave well enough alone this summer. Speaking publicly for the first time since this year’s draft, Reese acknowledged there will be no inspirational tools used by him, but that doesn’t mean he’s thinking small.
“We still expect big things,” Reese said, adding he likes the make-up of this team, even if outsiders have their doubts. “We’ve been put in the grave before we can even get to the first game. I don’t think it’s time to panic.”
Reese also has big plans for quarterback Eli Manning, who is coming off the worst season of his career statistically.
“I expect him to bounce back and be the Pro Bowl-caliber football player that we know he can be. He’s still a young football player, all things considered, with respect to the quarterback position,” said Reese. “We expect him to bounce back and not have some of the things that happened to him last year. He’ll be a dynamic football player for us.”
While he declined to get into any talk of a contract extension to back up his bold expectations.
“We keep all of our options open with respect to that,” Reese said. “Right now it’s really nothing to talk about. We’re two days into training camp and there’s really no need to talk about contracts at this point.”
Reese said the reason for his optimism relies on the relatively low wear and tear on the 33-year-old Manning.
“It’s not like a running back at that age or some other positions at that age. Quarterbacks don’t take the hits that other positions do, so hopefully Eli won’t take a lot of hits like he took last year,” Reese said. “We tried to fix that with some of our offensive linemen that we brought in. We’ve got some guys back off the injury list that we expect to play better. We’re hopeful that everybody jells up front and we can have a deep offensive line so we can protect our quarterback.”
Soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee Michael Strahan once played with Manning and played his entire career for Big Blue, so when asked for his thoughts on the Giants and their quarterback, he evoked recent history and encouraged outsiders to continue to downplay the team and their quarterback.
“The great thing about the Giants is whenever you don’t expect anything, they end up winning Super Bowls,” said Strahan, via conference call.
That’s the type of optimism Reese spouted during his session, even comparing this offseason’s roster turnover to what the defending-champion Seahawks did last year prior to their Super Bowl run.
“I think we’re going to be a really good football team [and] we’re going to start fast this season,” said Reese, who then piggybacked off what Strahan said. “You’ve seen us go all the way when we get in the tournament. All we got to do is just get in the tournament.”
Big Blue notes ...
»Reese also wouldn’t delve further into the David Tyree controversy: “I believe everyone should be treated equal. Everyone should be treated fair. And I believe everyone should have an opinion, too. Most of all, I believe I should mind my own business.”
»Strahan on his upcoming Hall of Fame induction: “It’s nothing I had in my brain [and] nothing I imagined when we started out. … My only goal [at the beginning of his NFL career] was to make a little money so I didn’t have to move back to my parents’ house.”
»Head coach Tom Coughlin noted rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is still dealing with a “sore” hamstring and didn’t practice much.
»Linebacker Jameel McClain (foot) is also “sore,” according to Coughlin, but the coach was happy the veteran “made it through” the whole practice.
»Recovering left tackle Will Beatty (knee/leg) is “doing more than expected [and] that’s very encouraging,” said Coughlin.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.