Tom Coughlin said Eli Manning could be back at work as early as tomorrow, but he won't be wearing a helmet. He'll do whatever drills he does in a baseball cap to give that lovely 12-stitch gash more time to heal.
Could make for some interesting situations if he participates in team drills. Of course, all quarterbacks wear the red shirts in practice, which means hands off. But there are plenty of times where an errant hand comes across the facemask. Coughlin said he'll tell his defense to be especially careful about those things.
"Most of our guys are good at, if they do get free up the field, they get past the quarterback," Coughlin said. "The guys are pretty much aware. You have to be sharp, and I’m sure we’ll pick our spots in that first practice, anyway, as we get a feel for what’s best."
Coughlin said Manning should get some playing time against Baltimore next Saturday in the third preseason game, the contest that traditionally serves as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Starters usually go three quarters or longer in that one, but it will be interesting to see how long Coughlin lets Manning work. Remember, those head gashes tend to stay raw for a while, and even with extra protection they could open easily if the helmet rubs it the wrong way.
The other good news is that guards Rich Seubert (hand) and Chris Snee (knee) are expected back, and that should give the offensive line a little more stability than the version that got Rhett Bomar sacked twice last night. That one had Will Beatty and David Diehl at left tackle and guard, and Guy Whimper at right guard. Diehl, by the way, will remain available for work at both tackle and guard.
Coughlin also said Kenny Phillips and Keith Bulluck should get significantly more than the six snaps each took against Pittsburgh. Bulluck has become especially important to this team, as the linebacking continued to be spotty. Also coming under the microscope is strongside backer Clint Sintim, as Coughlin described the strong side spot as having "a ways to go." Sintim made two tackles.
Brandon Jacobs is also expected to return after sitting out the game with a stiff neck. He was still suffering from what Coughlin described as "flexibility and movement issues" today, but he could be out on the field tomorrow. An MRI showed no structural damage, so the medical staff believes it's all a muscular thing caused by Jacobs doing shoulder shrugs in the weight room. "The expectation is he’ll be able to practice," Coughlin said. "Don’t ask me how this was provoked. This is the first time we’ve ever seen this."