- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 28, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Eli Manning is never going to put up numbers like Tom Brady, be as glib as his brother Peyton, or be as exciting as Michael Vick.

It’s just not him. While he is a behind-the-scenes practical joker, the unassuming Manning is someone who has buried his ego to lead a nose-to-the grindstone New York Giants‘ offense.

So for those hoping for weekly 300 yards passing performances or even repeats of last weekend’s four-touchdown passing effort against Philadelphia that earned the eight-year veteran the NFC offensive player of the week award _ forget it.

Manning is content to do whatever it takes to get a win, nothing more, nothing less.

“I’m not trying to put up certain numbers,” Manning said Wednesday after the Giants held their first practice for this weekend’s game in Arizona. “I don’t have any goals for my numbers, except for wins and trying to make good plays and put our team in a situation to win games.”

If it sounds boring, well, that’s Eli. He is not going to say anything controversial.

During the recent lockout, Manning distanced himself from the media despite being the orchestrator of a couple of passing camps and a week of team practice.

His reasoning: He didn’t want to say anything inappropriate.

On the field though, there is no doubt Manning is the Giants‘ leader.

Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee laughs about those who question Manning, who was named the Super Bowl MVP after the Giants win over New England in February 2008.

“I feel like he is always being criticized for something,” Snee said. “He does a great job of really dealing with everything he is given. He has a lot on his plate as far as what he has to do for our offense, and he does a great job with that. He is always overlooked and never gets the credit he deserves.”

Center David Baas, who signed with the Giants as a free agent, has been impressed with how smart Manning is and how well he understands the concepts behind the run-first offense.

“He is also a really good person,” Baas said. “I thought he might be a little standoffish at first when I got here. He hasn’t been. He’s been cool. He plays jokes on me all the time, but I give it right back when I can.”

Baas smiles about Manning’s pranks, which have included hiding the center’s uniform pants in a teammate’s locker, spitting sunflower seeds all over him and throwing footballs at his head when he’s not looking.

“It’s normal stuff, nothing too crazy,” Baas said. “He’s a good dude.”

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