HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning simulated taking a snap, backpedaled in the pocket and then rolled to his left and hit receiver Hakeem Nicks on a pass to the sideline.
It’s what one would expect in a New York Giants’ minicamp at this time of year.
The only problem was this pass took place on a high school field in the shadow of New York City and not under the watchful eyes of coach Tom Coughlin and his staff at the Giants’ practice facility.
Welcome to lockout football, where one gets to watch eight players try to stay in shape under the supervision of Manning and his trainer.
The onlookers at Hoboken High School include about a half dozen members of the media, about a dozen locals from this trendy community and a half dozen firefighters from a ladder company who climbed to the top of a roof of a nearby storage building and stood on the edge of the building to watch a little of the workout.
“We’re getting our timing back down the first week, making up a little bit,” Nicks said after the roughly 90-minute workout that really didn’t raise much of a sweat for anyone. “I think guys are trying to get back in that groove and get that connection back.”
Manning and Nicks were joined on the field by quarterback Sage Rosenfels, tight end Kevin Boss and receivers Michael Clayton, Duke Calhoun, Victor Cruz and Samuel Giguere.
Manning set up the workouts about a month ago after getting permission to use the field from Mauro DeGennaro, the high school’s athletic director. Thursday’s workout was the third this week.
“It’s good to get back out on the field with the guys again,” said Boss, who left about 20 minutes early to participate in another workout in Mahwah. “It’s nice to see everyone and start catching the ball again and have fun while we are doing it.”
The people watching the workout seemingly had fun.
The field, which had an artificial surface, was next to a tennis court, where about 10 people either shot pictures with their cell phones or seemed to be texting friends.
“This gives a little excitement to the high school and the community,” DeGennaro said. “Eli has always been very generous with the students of Hoboken High School, not just the athletics, but all the students. When he made the request, it was very easy to say ‘yes and come do what you want to do.’ He’s just a real, real nice person, as are all the guys.”
Few of the fans probably knew who they were watching. While Manning was the most recognizable, none of the players were wearing jerseys with their names on the back.
Manning might have had the only Giants’ apparel. He wore a red pair of shorts with the ‘NY’ logo on the side. Nicks wore a white North Carolina shirt with his No. 88. Everyone else was in sweats or other workout apparel with Clayton being the most colorful with a purple outfit.
“He’s good, just like Eli always be,” Nicks said when asked how Manning was running the workouts. “We are going to put in the work when we got it.”
The players plan to work out Friday and again next week.
For the third straight day, Manning had nothing to say. He drove off the field after the workout and did not stop to talk.
During the workout, he and Rosenfels simulated snaps and threw crossing patterns, outs and long passes to the receivers.
If there was anything that made them feel like they were back at the team’s headquarters, it was a steady wind. It knocked down some passes and made throwing others an adventure.
Nicks smiled when asked if the wind reminded him of the Meadowlands.
“That’s what we were joking about,” he said.
Nicks refused to say the lockout was bugging him.
“I am not frustrated at all, this is part of the business part of it,” he said. “I just have to make sure I am doing my part and standing on my ground.”