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Eli Manning is looking ahead. Who wouldn’t after the year he just had?

 

Manning comes off the worst season of his professional career that dates back to being the top overall selection in the 2004 draft. His Giants went from likely contender after making the 2016 playoffs to one of the NFL’s worst.

They were ravaged by injuries Joe Staley Jersey , dissension in the locker room, and then-coach Ben McAdoo even benched his quarterback in Week 13, ending Manning’s 210-game starting string.

McAdoo was fired the next week, the usually well-run franchise was embarrassed as badly as for any of the 13 defeats in 2017, and though Manning immediately got his job back, the Giants ended the year as one of the NFL’s biggest flops.

”It was a great reminder that nothing is guaranteed,” Manning said Friday. ”No matter what you did the year before – win your division, make the playoffs, whatever – it has no effect on the next year.

”So there’s no reason we can’t win 11 or more games this year. We made a lot of changes and will make more, and if we stay healthy and win some of those close games you always get in, who knows?”

Besides, that lost season serves as an impetus for the future.

”When you have a tough year, you use it as motivation,” he said. ”Get back in there and do whatever you need to do to make changes. Make a commitment again to playing at a higher level. It challenges you and makes you hungrier.”

The two-time Super Bowl MVP has a new coach in Pat Shurmur, who like McAdoo has a background as a QB guru. Unlike the rough-edged McAdoo Dorian O'Daniel Jersey , though, Shurmur has a smoother style and also is more open in his thinking and planning for running an offense.

To Manning, 37, an opportunity to expand the attack is much welcomed.

”We’ve talked a bit, getting to know each other, but there’s a limit how much you can meet and talk,” Manning said.

”I am excited to start learning the offense and the playbook and how Pat will use our skillsets. He’s got a combination of Norv Turner, Andy Reid and Chip Kelly in there from the places he’s been.

”There’s definitely an adjustment, but if you’ve played the game long enough, there are only so many new plays you can put in.”

Manning smiled when he said that, knowing Shurmur isn’t about to design a Russell Wilson/Cam Newton type of offense for him.

There’s been much speculation that Manning could be traded and the Giants would use the second overall pick in April on one of the highly rated quarterbacks in this draft. The choice of Shurmur and ownership’s devotion to Manning seems to have made Manning’s departure unlikely.

Asked if he’d encourage new general manager Dave Gettleman to take an offensive lineman to offer the kind of protection he doesn’t get often enough, Manning laughed and replied, ”I won’t complain.”

He certainly won’t complain about getting back his prime target, Odell Beckham Jr. The spectacular receiver was lost in early October to a broken ankle. Beckham is enough of a difference maker that New York might have had a few more victories had he been available all season.

”He’s a tremendous player, and when he gets back and is healthy Jarius Wright Jersey , he impacts games,” Manning said. ”It’s tough when guys you work with all spring and summer and you lose them and have all new guys. Odell, Brandon (Marshall), Sterling (Shepard).”

Manning spent part of the day welcoming visitors to a Courtyard by Marriott experience whose contest winners will spend Saturday night sleeping in a luxury suite at U.S. Bank Stadium.

He joked that he can’t ever remember sleeping in a stadium, but that waking up the morning of the Super Bowl at the venue would be ”pretty neat to do.”

Then he wondered just how quiet the stadium would be on Super Bowl eve.

”You’re right there in the dome and get to see all the behind-the-scenes stuff,” he said. ”Then you wake up on Super Bowl Sunday right there. Has to be a wonderful experience.”

Considering he is 2-0 in the big game, Manning knows about wonderful Super Bowl experiences.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is excited to see his new-look secondary.

The Steelers overhauled the position following a bumpy season which included a disappointing upset playoff loss against Jacksonville in the divisional round. The team followed by parting ways with several long-time veterans, and their position coach, while adding experience, depth and a pair of hard-hitting draft picks.

"We have some guys in that position that are new to us," Tomlin said. "It's going to be an active, active training camp for that group. I'm excited about seeing them all."

Pittsburgh cut ties with veterans Mike Mitchell, William Gay and Robert Golden, in addition to J.J. Wilcox and position coach Carnell Lake. The Steelers added long-time Penn State assistant Tom Bradley as the defensive backs coach along with former veteran Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett and special teams standout Nat Berhe. They also invested a first-round draft pick in Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds and another in fifth-rounder Marcus Allen out of Penn State.

"We didn't go into the draft saying we were going to draft another safety," Steelers' general manager Kevin Colbert said. "We went into the draft saying Len Dawson Jersey , OK, if safety is the best position available, we can add another guy, and that's what we did."

The Steelers also plan to switch Sean Davis from strong to free safety this season. Davis said he's more comfortable on the strong side, but he's anxious to improve at free safety.

Davis, who enters his third season, is a veteran in the room of sorts as he and Jordan Dangerfield are the lone returning safeties who have experience with the team.

"The coaches talked to me and said we need you to be a leader. to be a veteran," Davis said. "I'm embracing my role. I have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and take a bigger step in helping this defense reach our goals."

Burnett was versatile during eight seasons in Green Bay. He moved around late in his tenure, but primarily played safety with the Packers. Burnett started 102 games for the Packers and won a Super Bowl ring in 2011 when Green Bay beat Pittsburgh.

"I'm a firm believer that you let your work do the talking, and you go about doing things the right way," Burnett said. "You have to earn the respect of your teammates."

In last season's AFC divisional playoff round, the Steelers allowed 45 points at home to a Jacksonville offense that scored just 10 points a week earlier. The secondary gave up two pass plays of 40 yards or more in that game, a communication issue the new group looks to rectify this season.

Tackling is also a priority for the secondary.

"We were 31st in the league at missed tackles, so that's definitely a point of emphasis," Davis said. "We all know 31st is unacceptable Matt Breida Jersey , and for us to be world champions, that needs to be worked on and corrected."

The Steelers hope Edmunds, their first-round pick, can help.

Edmunds is classified as a safety, but he also served as a linebacker at Virginia Tech when the Hokies played with five or more defensive backs. He could play a similar hybrid role with the Steelers.

"Of course I want to start, but whatever position they put me in, I gotta go out and make a play," Edmunds said. "If that's strictly on special teams, if it's coming in on certain packages, I'm just trying to go out there and help the team win."

NOTES: Steelers starting left guard Ramon Foster exited Saturday's practice on a cart with a lower body injury. Tomlin said after practice that Foster was being evaluated and did not have an update on his status. Trainers worked on Foster's right knee and leg following a play during the Steelers' first padded practice of training camp. ... Burnett missed his second practice on Saturday with a minor hamstring injury. ... The Steelers announced Rocky Bleier, Buddy Dial, Alan Faneca, Bill Nunn and Arthur J. Rooney, Jr. to the team's 2018 Hall of Honor.

 

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