A high-ankle sprain suffered on Sunday in a loss to Green Bay is expected to cost Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones the opportunity to play in a prime-time game against the Eagles on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field. With Jones in a walking boot on Wednesday, New York head coach Pat Shurmur said it's "very likely" veteran Eli Manning will start his 33rd career game (including playoffs) against the Eagles.
Monday night is the first of two games between the Eagles and Giants in a span of three weeks, as the teams will play at MetLife Stadium on December 29 to conclude the regular season.
The Eagles have a 22-10 record against Manning and have won the last five games and nine of the last 10 games Manning has started against Philadelphia. In his career, Manning has completed 686 of 1,155 passes against the Eagles (59.3 percent) for 8,121 yards. He's thrown 54 touchdowns and 37 interceptions against the Eagles.
"We know Eli," linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill said on Wednesday after the team had its usual Tuesday light day (since it's a Monday night game, every day is on a Sunday game schedule starting on Wednesday). "He's a veteran. He knows us and we know him. We know that he's a quality player who has won Super Bowls and has been a good quarterback for a long time in this league."
In his 16th NFL season, Manning started the first two games of this 2019 campaign before giving way to Jones, the sixth overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Manning completed 56 of 89 passes for 556 yards in those two starts, tossing two touchdown passes and two interceptions. New York lost both games, 35-17 to Dallas and 28-14 to Buffalo.
New York has lost eight straight games after opening the season 2-2.
Manning will have some help as New York expects tight end and leading receiver (44 receptions, 467 yards, 3 touchdowns) Evan Engram back in the lineup, along with wide receiver Golden Tate, who has 36 catches for 450 yards and three touchdowns this season.
"Business as usual, in the sense of get the game plan, start prepping for Philly," Manning said on Wednesday. "Going against a good defense, but also a defense that I've faced a number of years and know them well. Just get back in the mix with the offensive line and receivers and make sure our timing is where it needs to be."
Asked what the toughest part of the last two months has been, Manning said, "Just not playing in the games. You miss being part of the action and practicing and all of that. Felt good going out and throwing it around today and competing."
For Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the return of Manning to the lineup means the Giants will probably have a changed feel than when Jones, a younger, more mobile and less experienced quarterback, was the starter.
"They're different," Schwartz said. "Jones had been running some zone read and had made some scramble plays. He had been their second-leading rusher and averaging 6 yards a carry, so scramble was a part of it and zone read was a part of it and that kind of stuff. Eli, that's not a huge part of his game. Jones had been holding the ball a little bit in the pocket. We know Eli's not going to hold it. The ball's going to come out quick.
"They've got good playmakers and a good running back (in Saquon Barkley), so it changes a little bit of the game, just the dynamic of a quarterback. We faced both of those over the course of the season – we've faced both of those kinds of guys. It's going to be important to cover quick and to get to the quarterback quick and knock the timing off of their passing game when Eli's back there because he's such a timing quarterback."