Eli Manning isn’t going to fade away quietly after the New York Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the sixth pick in the NFL draft.
The 16-year veteran focused on building and maintaining arm strength during a four-month training regimen this offseason with a pitching coach, according to USA Today.
Manning enlists pitching coach to strengthen arm
Mickey Brueckner began coaching Manning, 38, during the spring at his facility after their mutual acquaintance, two-time MLB All-Star pitcher Al Leiter, offered the idea.
Manning, who completed 41 of 55 passes against the first-team defense in camp, has noticed a difference.
“I feel like it’s paid off. I’m throwing the ball well, and arm is staying strong and I’m not losing anything. In training camp, sometimes you’d have four practices in a row, and you’re not used to that; you can see your arm getting tired. But still feeling strong."
The plan included weight training for the shoulder and lower body to help Manning be more mobile in the pocket, a skill set that’s never been a part of his repertoire. The work went up to team OTAs and Giants head coach Pat Shurmur also noticed a difference.
He told USA Today:
“I think he’s really throwing the ball well,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “When he came back for OTAs, we saw it. Some of it was physical, some of it was how he trained. You ask the quarterbacks to get better every day and train and do all of the right things, and along the way, they sort of find their way. Eli’s done that every year.
They worked up until OTAs, per USA Today, and Manning brought in teammates, including running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Sterling Shepard, for three days in April.
Quarterbacks turn to pitching coaches
A quarterback working with a pitching coach isn’t groundbreaking. The mechanics of throwing a baseball and a football are largely the same, which means basic fundamentals are similar as are stress points.
The 36-year-old Brueckner, who has coached World Series champions and Cy Young winners, told USA Today:
"My purview is overhand throwers, so that applies to quarterbacks. To be honest, I don't think quarterbacks are trained the way they should be to build and maintain strength in the shoulder, so that's what the focus is. His main priority was building arm strength."
Brueckner not only worked to improve Manning’s strength, he designed the program to manage stress on his arm just as would be done for a pitcher, he told USA Today. Repetition builds muscle mass and memory in the rotator cuff and scapular muscles.
Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Matt Cassel, Alex Smith and Tim Tebow all worked with former major league pitching coach Tom House at USC in the early 2010s. House collected data from legends such as Dan Marino and Joe Montana and earned recognition after helping Brees in 2004.
Bright spot for Giants amid camp woes
The Giants will take what they can get in the optimism department. Taking Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick didn’t sit well with the fan base, especially after trading star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns. And a combination of preseason injuries have decimated what was believed to be a good receiving corps for Manning to target.
Manning told USA Today the new offseason program is out of personal motivation, not any outside factors. He will likely find himself on the bench at least once this season. Since 2006, 94 percent of quarterbacks taken in the first round of the draft have started at least one game their rookie season.
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