NickSeiler wows ClanRam by posting another Warner-related thread!
Warner, Not Manning, to Make the First Start
By BILL PENNINGTON
Published: August 12, 2004
LBANY, Aug. 11 - When Kurt Warner signed with the Giants in June, it was expected that he would lead the way, at least temporarily, for Eli Manning, the top pick in the draft. On Wednesday, Coach Tom Coughlin confirmed that there is a pecking order at quarterback and it begins with Warner. Manning will follow.
Warner will start the Giants' opening preseason game Friday night at Giants Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs, the first official acknowledgement that it may be Warner's job to lose.
But Warner is on a short leash. Coughlin would not so much as discuss whether Warner or Manning would start the second preseason game on Aug. 19. And Coughlin conceded that the competition between Warner and Manning was still more or less even.
Both quarterbacks will play extensively Friday, with Warner beginning the game with the first offensive unit and playing into the second quarter. Manning will replace him, playing briefly with some of the starters and continuing with the reserves well into the third quarter.
Coughlin, ever cautious with his answers to reporters' questions, explained his decision by saying: "It's just the way we wanted to go. It's the way we should go with this game."
As for the next game, he said: "I'm not talking about the second preseason game. We'll look at one game and then we'll see where we are."
Coughlin's choice was no doubt made easier when he considered the impact that starting the first preseason game at Giants Stadium would have on Warner compared with that impact on Manning. Warner is playing his seventh season in the N.F.L. and has played in two Super Bowls. Manning carries with him the burden of being savior to the franchise, and he has been a professional for only a few months.
It is quite likely that Coughlin did not want to expose Manning, who will be making his first Giants Stadium appearance, to the added pressure of starting the game. There is also the pressure of playing behind a revamped offensive line that has performed erratically in practice. The Giants want to protect Manning, in whom they have invested $45 million and a host of draft picks.
Warner, 33, who could be with the Giants no more than one season, is certainly more accustomed to the conditions of a deteriorating pass pocket.
Warner and Manning seemed at ease with Coughlin's decision. Warner said it was what he expected.
"It looked like it was leaning that way, at least for the first game," he said.
Manning almost seemed relieved.
"I've been a backup before," he said. "I'm here for a learning experience. It's my job to watch and learn from Kurt, who has played in a lot of games. I'm excited I'm going to get to play, but I don't feel like I have to go out and outcompete him."
Running back Tiki Barber said the rest of the team saw the quarterback situation as a competition but not one that was fierce or contentious.
"Whatever you want to call it, Friday is the first showcase for both of them in New York," Barber said. "And that is a whole other animal."
Coughlin did not seem overly protective of his rookie quarterback.
"Eli will handle the pressure well," Coughlin said. "He knows the pressure, he's been under it since he first arrived, from his initial training camp practice. So it's not like he hasn't seen it before."
Coughlin also announced that the open audition for the team's punt return and kickoff return jobs will begin Friday night.
On Wednesday, the Giants signed wide receiver/kick returner Avion Black, who has played for Buffalo and Houston. Coughlin said Black would most likely return kicks for the Giants on Friday along with Curtis Deloatch, a rookie free agent cornerback from North Carolina A&T.
Deloatch returned kickoffs and punts in college. Black did not play in the N.F.L. last season but played in 11 games for Houston in 2002, when his kickoff return average of 22 yards led the Texans. Black also averaged 13.4 yards per punt return for the Texans. He returned one punt 76 yards for a touchdown.
Coughlin said most of the players who have not been practicing this week would not play Friday. That list includes linebacker Carlos Emmons and wide receivers Tim Carter, Jamaar Taylor and James McKnight.
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