Eli Manning fully understands what the New York Giants’ decision not to select a quarterback with the second overall pick of last April’s NFL Draft means.

The Giants determined that going with running back Saquon Barkley instead of Manning’s replacement was the better option, because they have faith the two-time Super Bowl MVP can still lead them to another Super Bowl crown.

‘I want to go out there and do great things’

“It was kind of a vote of confidence in that they trusted in me that I can play at a high level, can win games, take us deep in playoffs and win championships and win championships still,” Manning told Bob Papa and Charlie Weis on The Opening Drive. “And you know what? I want to prove them right and I want to make them look smart and make them to have made the right decision in doing that. I want to go out there and do great things, do my job and lead this team and make guys around me better and do what I’m supposed to do to put us in position to win those games.”

Manning liked what he saw of the Giants during offseason practices. He was impressed with his supporting cast – Barkley, his offensive line, and his receivers.

‘(Engram and Shepard) kind of understand schemes and defenses and kind of little nuances’

“(Receivers) Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard both had outstanding camps,” Manning said. “They’re playmakers. Sterling’s going into that third year, which I think is always a big year for receivers. They kind of understand schemes and defenses and kind of little nuances of how to get open whether it’s man or zone or feeling out the zones.

“And Evan Ingram, kind of in that second year, had a big year last year just kind of knowing how to handle the course of a full season in the NFL and how it all works and how teams are going to try to attack him and be able to move him around kind of in different spots. I think that first year you don’t want to overload him, but now he has a better feel to move him around in different spots and see how he can help us. Obviously, we’re getting Odell back, so there’s a lot of talent there.”

‘(Solder) knows how the offensive line is supposed to work together as a group’

The offensive line received a major boost with the addition of former New England Patriots standout left tackle Nate Solder. As Manning pointed out, Solder’s contribution goes beyond what he does on the field.

“He knows how the offensive line is supposed to work together as a group,” Manning said. “He has them in there early, has them eating lunch together, has that (bond), (which) I always thought was most important with offensive line. It’s not having the five best players at each position. It’s having five guys that just work together. They communicate, they’ve got a toughness about them, they’ve got a pride in their job and being able to get that third-and-two, being able to run the ball, being able to pass protect and give us enough time and pick up the stunts and the blitzes. So I think he’s kind of bringing that attitude to this group.”

‘Can we find ways to make big plays in critical moments of the game?’

For now, it makes for great conversation for the Giants and their fans. Whether it becomes more than that remains to be seen.

“Now it’s just a matter of, can we put it all together on game day? Can we find ways to make big plays in critical moments of the game? Can we win those tough-nosed battles where, hey, maybe not everything’s going perfect but can you find a way to win in the fourth quarter? Can you put it all together in crunch time and find a way just a way to get those victories? Those are the teams that tend to have great years, the ones that are just gritty and tough and figure out ways to win football games.

‘I think, on paper, it’s kind of all where it needs to be’

“As a quarterback, you don’t get too excited about putting pads on (for training camp) and this and that. It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to us, but I’m excited to get the pads on just to see what Saquon can do in action and seeing him run behind that offensive line. I think, on paper, it’s kind of all where it needs to be. Now it’s a matter, hey, can we put it all into play and make it work on Sundays.”

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