It's gotten lost in Daniel Jones Mania, but Eli Manning is having a pretty good summer, too.
The veteran starter - who is still the Giants starter - has been solid during the preseason so far in the three series that he's played. This time, in a 25-23 win in Cincinnati, Manning had a deceptive performance, going 4-for-8 for 41 yards. But two of those incompletions were drops by receiver Cody Latimer, including one in the end zone that forced the Giants to settle for a field goal on Manning's lone drive.
Manning is now 9-of-13 for 86 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. It's a small sample size, obviously, but good for a passer rating of 113.0.
More importantly, he looks comfortable with his offensive line playing well in front of him. He looks decisive - except for that first pass of the year where he ignored a wide open Rhett Ellison to dump a pass off underneath. And his arm looks strong, with his passes having plenty of zip. He hasn't really unleashed his arm in the preseason just yet, but his arm strength has been evident in practice all camp long.
So yeah, Jones is good and Jones is the future. But Manning continues to stake his claim to the now.
Here are a few more takeaways from the Giants' third preseason game:
- In the first game, Jones had a dazzling debut. In the second, he showed he could bounce back from adversity. In the third, he showed he can take a hit. He took a huge one from Bengals linebacker Carl Lawson, causing a fumble that the Giants recovered. On the next play, with Lawson in his face again, he unleashed a 27-yard pass down the sidelines to rookie Darius Slayton, who caught it just in bounds at the one. It was a perfect throw, right before he took a hit.
Not a lot of rookie quarterbacks can do that. Jones really does seem unflappable. He's still doing it mostly against backups on defense, but there's no doubt his future looks bright.
- There were signs of life from the Giants' first-string defense, especially when it comes to pressure. DT Dexter Lawrence showed why he was drafted on the first drive, powering his way up the middle and batting down a pass by Bengals QB Andy Dalton. That was on second down. On third down, Tae Davis and Lorenzo Carter both flew in from the outside to force Dalton to rush his pass just before Davis hammered him. Any sign of a pass rush from this group has to be considered a good thing.
- Some things never change: The Giants can't cover tight ends. And the Bengals apparently knew it, because they opened the game with a screen pass to TE CJ Uzomah that he turned into a 29-yard gain. And then later, Dalton hit Uzomah for a 26-yard touchdown pass when he blew right past Giants S Jabrill Peppers. Every year. It doesn't matter who's in the lineup. Nothing changes.
- The two drops by Latimer is not at all what Pat Shurmur wanted to see from a receiving corps that has more questions than answers. They will need a Nos. 2 and 3 receiver to start the season with Golden Tate on suspension. They were really counting on Latimer and Bennie Fowler, but they do need someone they can actually count on.
- A good sign: Manning wasn't under pressure behind the starting offensive line. Little by little that starting five is starting to round into shape. They were pretty good run blocking too, but their pass rush was generally outstanding. Trust me: How this line performs is going to tell the tale of this season.
- Will Hernandez is a terrific guard and he'll be fine, but those penalties in two series were just awful. It was not his night.
- TE Evan Engram made his preseason debut, which was a bit of a surprise. He caught one short pass and barreled his way up the field for a first down and a nine-yard gain. He didn't come out for the second series. This was just a way to get his feet wet, so to speak.
- RB Wayne Gallman is no Saquon Barkley, but he's a fine backup and showed that on Thursday night. He rushed eight times for 31 yards and caught a 10-yard pass. Veteran Rod Smith had a couple of nice, tough runs behind him, including a powerful push for a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter. But he left the game with a groin injury after only five carries for eight yards. Paul Perkins rushed three times for two yards, which pushes him a little closer to his Giants career being done.
- Rookie CB Corey Ballentine ended a Bengals drive with a pass deflection in the third quarter that easily could've been a Pick-6. The sixth-round pick didn't start, but he's playing like he should be. He's going to find his way into the Giants' defensive rotation soon.
- It seems like Shurmur prefers to have the veteran, Alex Tanney, in his quarterback room instead of Kyle Lauletta. But if Lauletta was going to change his mind, this was the night. Tanney didn't look very good, going 2-of-6 for 25 yards. Then, Lauletta came in and went 4-of-7 for 77 yards. But he threw a beautiful, 36-yard pass down the sidelines to Reggie White Jr. to set up a Jon Hilliman touchdown run. His better play was the two-point conversion - a great play-fake followed by a dart to Alonzo Russell in the end zone. He looked as sharp as he's looked all summer.
- Brittan Golden made a good case for the last receiver spot on the Giants with two impressive catches for 59 yards. But he may have actually made the team with his 68-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Along the way, he got a great block from Russell, who was his bodyguard all the way down the field.
The Giants play their final tune-up game against the Patriots in Foxborough on Aug. 29. Then, it's the Cowboys in Dallas for Week 1 of the regular season.