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Eli gaining allies one win at a time


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By TARA SULLIVAN

STAFF WRITER

 

 

 

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Eli Manning made his verbal point back in training camp, his pointed response to criticism by former teammate Tiki Barber an admitted change of tactic for the man they call "Easy."

 

But the best evidence that Manning is growing more comfortable with the leadership role Barber famously claimed was ill-fitting has come on the football field.

 

Heading into Sunday afternoon's game against the 49ers, the Giants are riding a four-game winning streak with the sixth-ranked offense in the NFL. From coach Tom Coughlin to the offensive teammates in his huddle, the consensus is clear: Manning is the team's leader.

 

"I don't think I feel any different," Manning said following practice Friday. "I haven't changed my personality or what I'm saying to the guys. I think we're just doing a better job executing the plays. I think it's a normal adjustment of my fourth year in the offense, of having a great feel for the guys out there and what they're doing and what they're expecting to see.

 

"I never got concerned with [the questions about my leadership]. It became an issue, it was talked about, but it didn't change the way I perform, practice or communicate with the players. I didn't have to react. You've got to be yourself, play, practice and do everything the way you know how."

 

Barber, the team's best offensive player until his early retirement after last season, has continued to watch Manning in his own new roles as a member of NBC's "Today" show and the network's Sunday night football broadcast. On Friday, Barber described the difference he sees in the 2007 Manning.

"He was always a good leader, that is what is so misconstrued," Barber said. "He was just uncomfortable with it. He plays with a swagger now and a confidence and doesn't show disappointment."

 

The Giants' season was in trouble early, when the team opened with a two-game losing streak and Manning nursed an injured shoulder. But as the durable quarterback played through the pain and the victories began rolling in, Manning's stature grew.

 

"I think he has been very solid, very solid in the huddle," Coughlin said. "He has made the plays. His teammates have really gained confidence in how he plays. ... I think definitely what you see is the confidence factor and I think that spreads."

 

Manning hasn't changed his personality. He's not going to holler at teammates or rant and rave about mistakes. But what he does more easily now is correct mistakes, soothe egos and inspire success.

 

"Eli was in charge the last few years, but this year it seems like he's more in charge," running back Brandon Jacobs said. "He's still 'Easy E.' He doesn't yell, he doesn't act like he's bigger than life. But he has confidence. And it's all about confidence in this game."

 

Manning is eighth in the NFL with 1,379 passing yards. Over the past two seasons, he has thrown for 7,006 yards with 48 touchdowns and 35 interceptions, numbers that are as good or better than the other top quarterbacks drafted around the time Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in 2004. For instance, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, the 11th pick in that draft, had 5,898 yards in the same span (in five fewer games) with 35 touchdowns, 32 interceptions and of course, one Super Bowl victory.

 

The title is why Roethlisberger never faced questions about his leadership. Manning is starting to shed that skepticism as well, even if the verbal fireworks are finished.

 

"I haven't talked to Tiki," Manning said. "I have nothing against him, I don't hold a grudge. It's been forgotten about and we've both moved on."

 

E-mail: sullivan@northjersey.com

 

Didn't Barber say something quite differently at the beginning of the season?

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Didn't Barber say something quite differently at the beginning of the season?

This is why I'm so sadden by this situation. You have to understand, I love Tiki. Remember when Tiki was our only offensive threat? And for him to say something like that about Eli on prime time TV was heart breaking for me.

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This is why I'm so sadden by this situation. You have to understand, I love Tiki. Remember when Tiki was our only offensive threat? And for him to say something like that about Eli on prime time TV was heart breaking for me.

 

I was a huge fan too. I gave my mom, a big Giants fan who is really the reason I am the fan I am today, a Tiki jersey for christmas recently too. I stood by him for retiring. I still do. But what he said in that one broadcast was downright despicable.

 

 

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at the game today, they showed the top 5 rushing performances of giants history and tiki's game against the redskins last year was #1...and everyone booed really loud. a guy near me had a tiki jersey that said "BLABBERMOUTH" over barber...kinda sad becuse he was amazing but fact is he quit on the team and is a douchebag

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Bravo Eli, I knew you would come out and prove you were worth the draft picks and prove naysayers wrong. Youre the man.

 

Just for the record, Tiki said his attempts at times were comical last yr. Im not jumping on ayones side, cause I dont believe Tiki ever said what is quoted up there either. All I know is Eli is rockin the house, and thats all that matters. Tiki aint on the team anymore.

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