The rest of the winless Giants were careful to be respectful to Eli Manning, while also expressing excitement Wednesday about the quarterback switch to first-round pick Daniel Jones.
Manning, the two-time Super Bowl champion, will serve as the backup to Jones, the sixth-overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, for the first time in Sunday’s visit to Tampa Bay.
“We just have to roll with it and rally around everybody. Rally around DJ and obviously still lift up E,” tight end Evan Engram said. “It’s a business, but Eli is a true professional in every way, always.
“It’s obviously tough, and he’s been playing here for a long time, but we’re gonna rally around both of them, everybody, and go get ready to get a win on Sunday.”
Manning hardly was the lone culprit as the Giants dropped their first two games of the season against Dallas and Buffalo, and Pat Shurmur told the team as much before practice.
“We’re all connected. We haven’t done anything well enough to win the first two games,” Shurmur said. “So they’re well aware of the fact that everybody in the room has to do what they do better.”
While complimenting Manning, Engram also has been impressed with what he’s seen from the more mobile Jones, who completed 29 of 34 passes for 416 yards during the preseason.
“His confidence has gone through the roof,” Engram said. “Obviously, coming in and learning a new offense, playing quarterback is a really tough position in this league. So it’s definitely a challenge for him to overcome.
“But he’s come to work each and every day, staying steady, staying ready. Obviously he had a great camp and a great preseason. Just seeing his confidence grow throughout this process has been real promising.”
Nate Solder who played his first seven NFL seasons protecting Tom Brady in New England, agreed that Manning handled his demotion “like he always does, he’s an absolute pro.” But the veteran left tackle also admitted to being “excited and encouraged” about the start of the Jones era.
“Man, I love Daniel. I think he’s doing an excellent job, he’s taking it one day at a time, and he’s working hard,” Solder said. “But it takes 11 guys, not just one. It’s not an easy task. I think it’s going to take all of us. It’s never one guy.”
Safety Antoine Bethea, a 14-year veteran, recalled playing for Indianapolis when Eli’s brother, Peyton Manning, left for Denver after missing the 2011 season with a neck injury.
“The players are a big part of the success of this business, but a lot of times bad stuff falls on our shoulders, as well,” Bethea said. “It’s just part of the business. You hate to see it. In Indy, you never thought that Peyton was going to not be a Colt. You thought he was going to be there for his whole career. But things happen.
“It’s a business and there are things you have to work through. But Daniel is very capable, he’s very capable of making all the throws and all the plays. This is just the decision that the coaches made… It’s one of those things like ‘put him in there and see if we get a spark’ and go from there.”