Manning speaks highly of Giants’ speed at receiver

It’s nearly impossible to have any conversation about the Giants’ 2009 outlook without the topic of wide receivers dominating it.

No Plaxico Burress. No Amani Toomer. When QB Eli Manning looks around, he sees Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Sinorice Moss, David Tyree, rookies Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden, Mario Manningham, Taye Biddle, Shaun Bodiford, Derek Hagan and Micah Rucker.

At last count, that’s 11 receivers not named Burress or Toomer. No true No. 1, with Smith likely holding top billing. Lots of youth. Lots of unknowns.

NFL Network play-by-play voice Bob Papa got Manning one-on-one at organized team activities Thursday and asked him if working with the young receivers in the absence of Burress and Toomer is trial by error. Manning didn’t exactly disagree and then went on to speak highly of the group’s speed.

“Well, yeah, I mean we have a lot of young guys, we have a lot of young talent,” Manning told Papa. “There’s a lot of speed out there. It’s just been fun. We’ve been throwing some ‘go’ routes and hitting some deep stuff and getting some seams. Some of these guys can really get down the field quickly. They’re using that burst and that quickness to their advantage.

“It’s been good. There’s going to be some mistakes, and there’s going to be this and that, but I’m getting a great feel with a bunch of different receivers, getting them in the action and getting them learning. I think the more guys you can have knowing the offense and knowing what’s going on, the better your team will be.”

Manning also noted that one of the Giants’ goals within the passing game this season is more explosive plays, taking advantage of the speed at receiver.

Hicks, the Giants’ first-round pick, was a point of discussion in today’s production meeting for NFL Total Access. Analyst Rod Woodson, for one, is a big Hicks guy and considers the 6-foot-1, 212 pound rookie to have the best hands of any receiver in April’s draft. Hicks came up again during Woodson’s live chat on NFL.com, when D-Mac in Charlotte, N.C., wanted to know what type of impact the rookie will have this season.

“I also believe Eli Manning will make Nicks the next Plaxico, but without the gunshot in his leg,” Woodson quipped.

NFL.com senior columnist Thomas George put together a nice piece on Hicks last month, mentioning Giants teammates talking glowingly about his tools.  And, on another Giants-related note, Papa blogged back in April that the Giants’ release of Burress was consistent with where they stand as an organization.

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