Despite playoff lock, Giants still plan to start Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr.

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 28, 2016

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Being locked into the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs will not stop the New York Giants from putting quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on the field Sunday in their regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins.

Coach Ben McAdoo plans to play whoever is healthy and cleared to play, seemingly without limitation. Manning would be making his 199th consecutive regular-season start.

"We have 53 [players] on the roster," McAdoo said. "We're going to activate 46. We have to go down and win the ball game."

Will it be the Giants' normal 46 players on the active gameday roster?

"We're going to play to win the ball game," McAdoo said.

The Redskins (9-5-1) will be fighting for their playoff lives. The Giants can knock their division rival out of the postseason.

"Definitely knowing you could keep a team out of the playoffs, that's a big deal, in a sense," Beckham said.

It doesn't appear the Giants plan to remove their starters from the game early, either.

"Eli is going to play the game, yes," McAdoo said of his starting quarterback.

The whole game?

"Eli is going to play the ball game, yes," McAdoo said.

The only exceptions for Sunday may be any injured Giants. Five players appeared on the injury report Wednesday. Only defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) did not practice.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (back), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), linebacker B.J. Goodson (concussion) and tight end Will Tye (illness) were limited.

"If players are cleared to play and healthy, we'll play them," McAdoo said.

The decision to play the starters on Sunday in Washington had nothing to do with losing on Thursday night in Philadelphia. It wasn't about momentum either, according to McAdoo.

But the Giants coach did think having his quarterback and star receiver (among others) active in a Week 17 game without playoff implications could benefit the team.

"We want to take steps as an offense," said McAdoo, whose team has not scored 30 points in a game this season and is 25th in total offense. "We want to move the ball. We want to finish drives better, finish throws better, make good decisions and take care of the football. The Duke is like a bar of gold this time of the year. We need to take care of the ball. That is the most important thing."

The Giants players and most of the coaching staff will concentrate exclusively on taking a step forward against the Redskins. Only select members of the coaching staff will focus on potential playoff opponents.

They could face Seattle, Detroit, Green Bay or Atlanta in the wild-card round the following week. First, they play the Redskins.

"This is pro football," McAdoo said. "We get paid to coach and get paid to play. That is what we do," McAdoo said. "That is what we do for a living."

The Giants players are well aware of the delicate balance they need for this game.

"You can't sit there and sugarcoat it and say that anybody in this locker room is not thinking about the playoffs mid-play, running a slant. You can't hide the fact that we're in there," Beckham said. "You have to be oblivious to it. Just keep it moving. Obviously we know where we're at, we know what is going on, all the implications and everything that is behind this game. Just find a way to win."