Calm, cool, collected

Not the least bit surprising was the matter-of-fact way Eli Manning handled the news that he was named New York's new starting quarterback. Manning had to wait nine games before getting the nod, yet didn't display any excitement whatsoever when told he was being handed the reins.

That's just Manning's makeup, and one of the many reasons the Giants did whatever necessary to get him.

Manning's first official press conference as the starting quarterback came on Thursday, Nov. 18; the amount of media on hand was much larger than usual. That prompted New York's public relations staff to move Manning's press conference from the locker room to the Giants Stadium pressroom. Before the bright lights and the eyes of the big city, Manning seemed to be as excited as someone holding a losing lottery ticket.

"You try not to worry about the media and what they're saying," Manning said. "I haven't been reading the paper, I haven't been watching TV to see what everybody is saying. I'm just trying to stay focused, work on Atlanta and get prepared for them, working on the game plan and knowing my plays and my reads. That's my only concern right now and everything else will work itself out."

It's safe to say Manning's blood pressure hasn't climbed a notch since Tom Coughlin tapped him as the new starting quarterback, replacing Kurt Warner. Manning will be heavily scrutinized because he was the top choice in this year's NFL Draft, and because he shoulders the hopes of millions of Giants fans. There is also the fact that he is the youngest member of football's first family of quarterbacks – his father, Archie, and brother, Peyton.

It would seem to be a high-pressure confluence of factors that could keep a young quarterback up at night. But Manning is taking it all in stride.

So, how about maintaining the family legacy? Archie was the second pick of the 1971 Draft and was an outstanding NFL quarterback for 14 years. Peyton was chosen No. 1 in 1998, has never missed a game, was the co-MVP in 2003 and is arguably the NFL's best player.

"I'm not building any expectations for myself based on my family," Manning said. "I want to go out there and succeed just because that's my competitive nature. I want to play well and I'm going to work hard to try and do everything to put myself in a position to do that and it all comes down to Sunday, to just go out there and try to make good decisions and try to just be a leader of the offense and run the offense well and just do everything I can to win the game and hopefully it works out that way."

Manning, cool as ever, said he isn't nervous about what lies ahead. That's understandable, because in some respects, he has prepared for this moment his entire life.

"I feel good," he said. "You know, this is what I want to do. This is why I came into the NFL and wanted to play professional football, to be a starting quarterback. And now it's coming and I want to be ready for it. Obviously, your first start you always want it to be one that you'll remember forever, so I'm just going to go out there and give it my best shot and try to get a win."

Toomer's take

Amani Toomer admitted that he was surprised that Manning was inserted into the starting lineup.

"It was a surprise," he said. "I thought our offense was sputtering but it's not all because of Kurt. I think there are a lot of factors involved and he kind of became the scapegoat. But in another sense, you have the guy that the franchise really believes is going to be the next quarterback and you want to get him in as much as possible."

Toomer sees success in Manning's future.

"I think he's not an ordinary rookie," he said. "When you watch him in practice and some of the preseason games, he does some special things with the football and hopefully that can come out on (during games)."

Business as usual

Coughlin said the Giants' game plan would not be radically altered because of Manning's inexperience.

"The plan will be an effective plan that will allow us an opportunity to offensively move the ball," Coughlin said. "And there is a regard for what Atlanta brings to the table in terms of their outstanding defensive play and with the fact that we expect to have pressure be a part of the game from the first snap on. So we are obviously aware of that. From that standpoint, that is the way the plan is constructed. Is it any different? In regard to who we are attacking, it is different. But it wouldn't be any different regardless of who the starting quarterback was."

Coughlin said Manning is taking all of the practice snaps with the first-team offense. When Warner was the starter, he took roughly eight of 10 snaps in a given period, with Manning getting the other two.

"Manning will have to take all the snaps right now," Coughlin said.

Owner's box

Giants co-owner Wellington Mara was all smiles when he was asked about Manning's upcoming debut.

"He had a very successful training camp," Mara said. "Much better than Phil Simms had before his first year."

Mara also cracked about Manning's inauspicious debut during minicamp in May.

"We knew he had a great arm when he knocked that tackling dummy over during his first practice," he said.

So what?

Manning seemed extremely disinterested when told that quarterbacks from the draft class of 2004 were off to a 10-0 start this season.

"I can't worry about what other quarterbacks are doing in the league," he said. "I just have to look at my situation and try and make the best of it. This week, my only concern is getting prepared for Atlanta and going out there and trying to play smart football and hopefully get a win. I've gotten to know Ben [Roethlisberger] before the draft and doing things together. I'm proud of him and support him in what he's doing."

Watch your step

Manning said he's conferred with his older brother Peyton since Coughlin named him the starter.

"I talked to Peyton," the Giants QB said. "Really, he called me once he heard and left a message and he said…he didn't have any great advice. His only piece of advice was if they call out the offense before the game, don't trip running out. That was really the only thing he said. He said prepare…this has happened with a lot of people and they call and congratulate you. But it's not really something that you get congratulated on. It's not like you've done anything. It's not like you've won a car or won a Super Bowl or won a game. I'll get calls that say, ‘Good luck.' I haven't done anything yet. I've still got to go out and play the games and that's what matters."

Looking out for number one

Since Terry Bradshaw was selected by Pittsburgh with the first pick in the 1970 draft, 14 quarterbacks have been chosen No. 1 overall – including Manning. Twelve of the previous 13 made their starting debuts as rookies. The exception was 2003 top pick Carson Palmer, whose initial start for the Cincinnati Bengals was this year's season opener against the Jets. The 12 quarterbacks who started for the first time as rookies were 4-8 in their initial outing.

The quarterback who had the highest one-game rating was Jeff George at 88.9. The lowest was John Elway, who checked in at zero, which proved to be a miniscule bump on his road to the Hall of Fame.

Despite those inauspicious beginnings, those quarterbacks went on to earn 12 Super Bowl rings and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, made 31 trips to the Pro Bowl.

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