- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 29, 2006

ALBANY, N.Y. — After his first full season as the New York Giants’ starting quarterback, Eli Manning reviewed each of his 24 touchdowns, 304 completions and 271 incompletions.

But the 20 interceptions he threw in 17 regular-season and playoff games also captured his attention during video study in the Meadowlands.

“I watched on my own. I watched with my quarterback coach. I watched with my offensive coordinator,” said Manning, who watched each interception at least four times. “I didn’t want to watch with too many other people in the room because it wasn’t fun. I wanted to see why each interception happened — bad decision, bad throw, trying to avoid something else.

“And now I want to work on trying to prevent them.”

As the Giants held their first two training camp practices at the University at Albany yesterday, the team was focused on making sure last year’s postseason result — a 23-0 loss to Carolina — doesn’t repeat itself.

Manning had similar thoughts this offseason, hoping to learn from the mistakes he made as a second-year quarterback, particularly his 10-for-18, three-interception effort against the Panthers.

The No. 1 pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by San Diego, Manning was traded hours later to the Giants. He watched Kurt Warner for the first nine games before going 1-6 as the starter and will carry a 12-11 regular-season record into the Giants’ opening game against brother Peyton’s Indianapolis Colts.

“Going into camp as the starter for a second time, I feel comfortable with the offense and I know how it all works and what things need to be done,” Manning said. “I know what my goals are and know what I need to get better at.”

Now that Manning has survived his indoctrination as a starter, the pressure to help the Giants repeat as NFC East division champs and make a playoff run have intensified.

The good part for him is that the Giants don’t lack weapons — they ranked fourth in yards (361.7) and third in points per game (26.4). Running back Tiki Barber is coming off a career year, rushing for 1,860 yards and the receiving group includes veterans Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey.

Through a 6-2 start last year, Manning had 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. In a 5-4 end to the season, including the playoff loss, he had 10 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

“I was taking too many chances,” he said. “Sometimes [early in the season], I got away with throws like off my back foot and maybe I depended on doing that more and stopped getting away with it as much.

“I need to make better decisions when there’s pressure. Sometimes, I would go to the right place with the ball but I need to do a better job of learning when to throw it away and when to take the sack instead of trying to throw it every time.”

Manning took a short vacation after the season before returning to work with offensive coordinator John Hufnagel and quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride. The trio watched every pass play the Giants ran during the season.

“We would try to examine why it was successful, why it wasn’t successful and look at those areas that he personally has to improve upon, whether it was decision making or technique,” Gilbride said.

Said Manning: “The goal of watching was to see every type of coverage we faced and learn how to make faster and better decisions.”

Like his older brother, Eli Manning is a preparation nut. Giants coaches marvel at his work ethic.

“What hasn’t he done — that would be the easier way to answer that question,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He’s been No. 1 in attendance this offseason. He’s studied more tape. He was in two weeks before everybody else. He’s been on the field for minicamp and individual workouts.

“He wants to be good and will pay whatever price is necessary to achieve success.”

Gilbride has worked with Drew Bledsoe, Mark Brunell, Warren Moon, and unfortunately, Ryan Leaf during a 16-year NFL coaching career.

“I think it varies,” he said, “but certainly by the third year, you hope there has been enough experience that Eli’s going to feel comfortable with having seen things enough times, his decision making will be good enough to be successful.”

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