Thursday, August 19, 2004

Eli Manning's Challenge

What a way to test a rookie quarterback: Give him his first NFL start against the defending NFC champions and their vaunted defense.

Eli Manning is ready for the challenge. Carolina Panthers are too.

It's a test by Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who is holding tryouts for his starting quarterback spot. Manning, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, is battling two-time MVP Kurt Warner for the job.

Warner started last week's 34-24 win over Kansas City, giving way to Manning, who went 7-for-13 for 91 yards and no touchdowns.

Manning knows the Panthers will be a tougher opponent, with the foursome of Peppers, All-Pro Kris Jenkins, Mike Rucker and Brentson Buckner eager to jar him a bit. He'll also have to dodge speedy linebackers Dan Morgan and Mark Fields.

``It's a great defense with a lot of good players,'' Manning said. ``It's going to be a challenge. That's when you have to go out there and make smart decisions. When nothing is there, you have to see what you're going to do.''

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