By Jim Hague
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Eli Manning participated with the first-team offense Thursday at the New York Giants’ organized team activity, showing no signs of the ankle surgery he underwent nearly two months ago.
“I feel like I can do almost anything football related,” said Manning, who took most of the snaps during the workout. “I’m not going to take any time off. This is the second day, and I want to see how it’s responding. There is no swelling, no discomfort, no issues. I’m able to go about my business.”
Manning had ankle surgery in early April after enduring the worst season of his 10-year NFL career. He threw 27 interceptions with just 18 TDs and was sacked a career-high 39 times. The Giants finished 7-9.
The ankle bothered Manning for most of the season and knocked him out of the final game against the Washington Redskins, the first time Manning went to the sideline because of an injury in his career.
“My goal was always to be back for the OTAs,” Manning said. “The doctors said that I needed seven weeks after surgery. They didn’t tell me that I wouldn’t be ready, but I had it in my mind that I should be ready. After three weeks, I knew I was feeling pretty good.”
The Giants are installing a new version of the West Coast offense under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
“It has been a learning experience for me and for everyone, learning the new offense,” Manning said. “I like it. Everything about it makes sense. We’ve made some good plays over the last two days. It’s still the early stages, but I like where we’re headed.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin isn’t surprised by Manning’s progress.
“When he first started, we tried to slow him down,” Coughlin said. “But he wants to go. We thought the progress would be slow, but he’s so far ahead. There may be a day where he’s a little sore, but he hasn’t shown it yet. “
Manning believes that he made the right decision having the surgery.
“It feels a lot better than it did,” Manning said. “It’s why we went ahead and had the surgery. There’s no discomfort. I’m running and doing drills. I don’t want to have to worry about the ankle. I thought I might miss some time, but I didn’t want to.
“After a while, I was able to do certain things without pain. After three weeks, I was able to do about 15 to 20 drops and I felt good. I thought I could be here. I wanted to be smart and not rush it if I wasn’t ready. The goal now is not to have any setbacks. I’ll continue to monitor it, rehab it. I still have some work to do.”
He’s not the only Giant player making a comeback from surgery.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul spent the offseason rehabbing a shoulder injury after back surgery last June. Having lost 20 pounds down to 275, Pierre-Paul feels fit and ready to return to his All-Pro status.
“I feel great,” said Pierre-Paul, who had only two sacks in 11 games last season. “Nothing is bothering me. It’s all behind me. I know I wasn’t at 100 percent last year. It’s a new season, a team with a lot of new faces. I’m ready to go out there and show everyone what I can do.”
Running back David Wilson had neck surgery after the first-round pick out of West Virginia played five games in 2013, collecting only 146 yards.
Doctors said at the time that his surgery was possibly career-threatening.
“The doctors are worried about me bumping into someone or falling down,” said Wilson, who is still prohibited from enduring any contact until his next MRI on Wednesday. “I feel great, but it’s out of my hands. I just have to rest.”
Wilson participated in some light drills Thursday.
“He’s out there running and he’s looking good,” Coughlin said of Wilson.
Safety Stevie Brown, who had left knee surgery last fall after tearing it in preseason, wore no brace.
“One of the first things I did when I first started rehab was not having to rely on any brace,” said Brown, who was second in the NFL in interceptions with eight in 2012, before missing all of last season. “I did things slowly without a brace.”