Tuesday Notebook: With Beckham down, Mario could be ‘X-factor’ at WR

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants will practice today under at QDTC under clear skies and pleasant temperatures. Monday’s practice was in full pads, but only lasted about an hour as head coach Tom Coughlin opted to use the remaining time for another “recovery stretch.”

If you want to anger Coughlin, give him a rookie that misses valuable time in training camp due to an injury.

Two rookies, first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr., and UDFA TE Xavier Grimble, both missed practice again on Monday with sore hamstrings. Coughlin would not comment further on when either would be back, but you count them out of this week’s preseason opener Sunday night vs Buffalo in Canton.

Coughlin knows this is something he cannot control, but that doesn’t make it any easier for him to swallow. He’ll have to play the hand he’s been dealt, which isn’t exactly a bad one.

Mario ManninghamThe WR ranks are still teeming with players ready to take Beckham’s reps. Julian Talley, Travis Harvey, Preston Parker, Corey Washington, Trindon Holliday, Marcus Harris and yes, Mario Manningham, are all in camp and catching passes.

Manningham is back after two seasons in San Francisco in which he tore his ACL and PCL, costing him a chance to play in the Super Bowl two years ago and then continued to hobble him last year.

The Giants decided to bring Mario back in hopes he can recapture the connection he formed with QB Eli Manning during his first tour with Big Blue. Two problems, however. He is – by admission – still recovering from the knee surgery, and the Giants he is coming back to are a different team. They have a load of new faces and a brand, spanking new playbook.

“We are getting back on the same page, knowing we have a new offense, knowing that we have been away from each other for a couple years,” said Mario of his rapport with Eli. “It will take a little bit of time. We are working on it.”

Although Manningham appears to be as fluid as many of the young bucks vying for a roster spot, he knows he’s a ways away from being comfortable on the field.

Coming in and out of my breaks, knowing I have the injury, it is taking me a little bit of time, but every day, as I said, it is getting better and better. Coming out of my breaks, that is it, just want to come out of my breaks smooth and fluid like I was… I have to knock a couple cobwebs off, but I am getting there.”

It could be that Manningham, not Beckham, becomes the player the Giants rely on in 2014 to supplement Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle at WR. He knows that won’t just be handed to him on reputation alone.

“What happened is in the past. This is still a new team to me. New faces. New staff. New offense. I am going out there like I want to make this team, not like I already made the team or I got drafted here. I have something to prove also.”

That comeback could be just what the Giants need as they seek to offset the possible loss of Beckham for an extended period of time.




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