Eye on Eli

Eli Manning met the media on Wednesday for only the second time as New York's starting QB. Here's some of what he had to say as he prepares for his first career NFL start:

Q: How did it go yesterday?

A: I feel fine. I got a good feel for things. It's an adjustment just getting back into the offense, running all of the plays at practice and making the reads and seeing defenses, so it takes some time, but I feel that I'll get better every day this week.

Q: Any jitters knowing what lies ahead on Sunday?

A: No, I'm fine right now, just trying to stay confident and be as prepared as I can and do lots of studying, and I'm excited for Sunday.

Q: What do you have to guard against?

A: You just have to be prepared. You want to go into the game and just think that you have all of the answers and you know you're going to get tricked or confused sometimes, but that's when you don't want to make mistakes. You don't want to turn the ball over, throw an interception. I'm going to try and get the ball out of my hand quickly, get the ball to the receivers and backs and let them try to make people miss and get first downs.

Q: What's the difference in preparing knowing that you're starting?

A: I try to prepare hard all of the time and I'd be lying if I said I'm not preparing a little harder this week just knowing that I'm going to start and it just makes it easier to prepare because you're out there, you're running plays, you're seeing things live where you can go back and watch the practice film and see exactly what's happening and study the defense and see exactly what they're doing so you can make your reads easier and be more productive.

Q: What was the advice from your brother?

A: Peyton called me Monday afternoon and he just left me a message and he didn't have any real advice. He just said when they call out the offense before the game to go out on the field, just lift your legs up high and don't trip. That would be the worst thing, so he doesn't have any advice, said just go out there and have fun.

Q: How much more prepared are you from sitting and watching the first nine games?

A: I think it does prepare you. Obviously you see defenses, you see a lot of defenses and different blitzes and what plays work well versus certain blitzes, and obviously Atlanta does blitz more than other teams do, so I think it helps in watching Kurt and watching him go through his reads and progressions and everything he has done. I learned a lot from him, just how he prepares and how he works in practice, so I think it helps you. It would probably be more helpful if you were playing and seeing live action and those things, but you try and make the best of every situation and obviously that's going to be the biggest adjustment, just getting on the game field and seeing how quickly the speed of the game picks up, where it is going to be a lot faster than it is at practice.

Q: Were you frustrated by not playing?

A: I wasn't frustrated by sitting. I understood the situation. I understood the decision, and I knew that I had to get better from that situation and work hard during practice and make my practice very real and almost game like and make decisions. That's the only way I was going to get better and get prepared for when I did get in the game, and I think right now it might have been the best decision for me to sit, watch and learn from Kurt. You know, you see how the game is played, what kind of decisions you have to make, how you have to protect the ball and how quickly you have to get the ball out of your hands, so maybe that was the best thing, but I guess we'll all see on Sunday.

Q: Coach said the switch could cause a spark; do you notice anything?

A: I thought we had a good practice yesterday. We didn't have many mental mistakes and that's a good sign and a good start, and we just have to go out there and play well and hopefully Sunday we'll get off to a good start like we have the past couple of weeks and then in the second half we'll continue to play well and get some points scored. You can't worry about those things. You have to go out there and play the game and take whatever the defense gives you and try and put yourself in a position to win the game in the fourth quarter.

Q: How about the leadership factor?

A: Being a quarterback, you're used to that. You're used to people and teammates looking up to you to make plays and when things get tough or a big play has to be made a lot of the time the ball is going to be in your hands and that's just being used to it and having dealt with it your whole life, so you just have to go out there and relax and play football and try to make good decisions and take what the defense gives you.

Q: Does the success of Roethlisberger put any extra pressure on you?

A: It doesn't put any pressure on myself. Obviously other people might look at it as pressure on me to compete with him and do as well as he is doing. I just have to go out there and play my game and obviously we're in two different situations, two different teams. Again, I'm proud of him. I've gotten to know him and I'm glad to see that he is doing well and I'm going to go out there Sunday and give it my best, play the game the way I know how to play it and hopefully we'll get a win.

Q: What got Kurt into some trouble were obviously the sacks; does that concern you at all?

A: The sacks are not all on Kurt. Obviously it's a team game and when sacks occur it's just a matter of certain people making mistakes…not everybody on the same page. I'm going to go out there and give it my best and try to get the ball out of my hand quickly when I sense pressure if I can get the ball out to the receivers. If not, I'll try to run for a few yards or throw the ball away, so hopefully we'll have good protection all day. Obviously Atlanta has a good defensive line. They've been getting a bunch of sacks lately, so we'll look to see what happens and hopefully we'll have good protection and not give up any sacks.

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