The last time that Mario Manningham wore a Giants uniform in a game that counted, he was hauling in a beautiful lob from Eli Manning to set up a Super Bowl-winning touchdown drive. Times have changed for both Manningham and the Giants since that moment. New York has missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, and Manningham saw his production with the 49ers limited by a knee injury at the end of the 2012 season.
The veteran wide receiver returned to action in Week 10 of last season, but then re-injured his knee after just six games and landed on the injured reserve prior to San Francisco's playoff run. Now back with the team that drafted him six years ago, Manningham is looking forward to being fully healthy in time for Week 1.
"It's going really good," Manningham told reporters about his recovery from a knee scope in January. "Just being patient. I'm going to be alright when camp starts, just trying to build the confidence back. Every day and every week it gets better."
Even though the Giants have several players and an offensive coordinator that weren't with the team when Manningham last suited up in 2011, he insists that everything is very familiar for him.
"When I came back just the feeling… just like I never left," said Manningham. "The guys here are cool, you know just looking around still. We know we have a mission. We know we have to do what we have to do."
It certainly doesn't hurt that new OC Bob McAdoo's system is similar to the one that Manningham ran with Greg Roman in San Francisco. The Michigan alum thinks that McAdoo's offense will have a little more room for improvisation than what the Giants were running under former OC Kevin Gilbride.
"More freedom, more running around, just more open space, opportunities," said Manningham. "That's what the West Coast offense is built into, just going out and playing. Just going out and not thinking while you're out there or being hesitant about your decisions."
Even though the Giants have changed a lot over the past two seasons, the familiarity Manningham has with the offense and the head coach should allow him to contribute right away once his knee is right.
"I know these guys and I know the level that they play at as far as winning and the high intensity and the coaches and the players. I'm glad I'm here."