THE OTHER MANN: MARIO MANNINGHAM HOPING FOR SUPER BOUNCE BACK AGAINST 49ERS
Excerpt: "He does not dance the salsa after each touchdown. He has not been offered a
spot on "Dancing With the Stars." He does not have king-sized hands that make
impossible catches, or a big frame to shrug of cornerbacks with ease.
It is no wonder Mario Manningham
gets lost easily in the Giants wide receiving corps when so few things about the
25-year-old receiver stand out especially when he is compared to Victor
Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.
The oft-forgotten wideout whose drop in the end zone in Week 10 helped sink
the Giants against the Niners could play a key role on in Sunday's NFC
Championship Game. As Nicks and Cruz have drawn increased attention from
opposing defenses, Manningham has quietly reemerged with three TD catches in the
last five games. His four-yard TD catch with 6:48 left in last week helped seal
the Giants' upset over the Packers.
"Mario has done a
great job (lately)," says Giants wide receivers coach Sean Ryan. "He's made
some huge plays on the outside."
That's partly because Manningham's more celebrated teammates are drawing
consistent double-coverage, and partly because he is finally healthy and playing
to his potential.
Now in his fourth year, Manningham opened the season as the starter opposite
Hakeem Nicks, seeking to solidify his standing as one of the league's top deep
threats, and possibly earn a big payday. His contract expires after this season,
and while he rarely talks about his future, he understands that suitors are
"I need to make plays," he said last month. "I know that."
But the gamebreaking plays that Manningham made last season when he
accumulated 944 receiving yards and nine TDs have come sporadically during an
injury-plagued 2011. In the second game of the season, a win over the Rams, he
suffered a concussion, an injury that caused him to miss a pivotal win over the
Eagles and paved the way for Cruz's two-touchdown breakout in
Manningham returned a week later against the Arizona Cardinals, but he has
spent much of the rest of the year battling a painful right knee injury on his
way to a disappointing, 39-catch, 523-yard regular season. The injury forced
Manningham to miss four games as he slowly rehabbed and strengthened the knee;
he finally returned and felt close to 100% in the season finale against the
His performance in November's 27-20 loss in San Francisco was a microcosm of
all that inconsistency. Statistically, it was his finest afternoon of the year
six catches, 77 yards and a TD. But he wasn't even sure he could play until he
tested his balky knee before the game." Read more...