It's very rare that you find Eli Manning wearing his feelings on his sleeve but it doesn't mean the New York Giants quarterback won't express disappointment with just a few words.
That's the notion teammates are getting after neither of Manning's favorite targets — Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks — have shown up for any of the Giants' off-season workouts at the Giants' organized team activities (OTAs).
Manning, who has had to settle for throwing mostly to backup receivers, is sounding more and more unhappy about it as time wears on.
"I was just really hoping (the Duke workouts) would be a little starter course to the spring, not a substitute for what we’re doing on the field right now," Manning said after the Giants’ final OTA on Thursday. "This is stuff where we’re getting to go against cornerbacks. You get to work your technique."
By the Duke workouts, Manning is referring to the private practices Eli and his brother Peyton held at Duke University, under the watchful eye of Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe, who was Eli’s head coach at Ole Miss and Peyton’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee. Each quarterback invited three receivers from their NFL teams. Eli was joined by newly signed Louis Murphy, Nicks and Cruz.
That was two months ago.
Although the OTAs are voluntary and the players can't be punished for skipping them, Nicks still hasn't contacted anyone on the Giants to explain his absence and Cruz — still unsigned for the 2013 season — just might be waiting to sign his one-year tender or finalize the long-term contract extension he's been negotiating since the end of last season.
That won't be the case next week when the Giants hold their mandatory minicamp, meaning Nicks but not Cruz will be required to attend.
Either way, Manning is just hoping his missing one-two punch won't lose its power or focus because of the time the two players have already missed this spring.
"They’ve run these plays hundreds of times before, so they’ll be able to get in the flow of things," Manning said Thursday. "But you’d still like them back here just to work on things that we didn’t do as well last year. They know what they’re doing. It’s just a matter of improving how they’re doing it sometimes."