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Eli: Duke workouts “not a substitute” for Nicks and Cruz

Eli Manning, Chris Snee

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, left, pokes the tricep of guard Chris Snee during NFL football practice, Thursday, May 30, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


Giants quarterback Eli Manning was careful to hold his tongue in the early stages of Victor Cruz’s absence.

But now that it’s taken up the whole OTA season, and fellow wideout Hakeem Nicks has missed it all as well, Manning sounds less ambivalent.

The Giants quarterback last saw his top two receivers when he was working out at Duke with his brother Peyton, but said those were “not a substitute” for what’s happening now.

“You got some work, but I was really hoping that would be a little starter course to the spring and not a substitute for what we’re doing on the field right now,” Manning said, via Mike Garafolo of USA Today. “This is the stuff where you’re getting to go against cornerbacks. You get to work your technique. You get to practice those things we’re gonna do in the season.”

That’s about as expressive as the younger Manning gets, so it will be interesting to see how the message is received.

Unlike Cruz, Nicks is under contract at the moment, so he’s obligated to be at next week’s mandatory minicamp, and coach Tom Coughlin is looking forward to their talk.

“There’s no change. I have not spoken to him,” Coughlin said of Nicks. “We have a mandatory [minicamp next Tuesday through Thursday]. I would expect he’ll be here, . . .

“I don’t know any more information than I did the day he went home for the weekend.”

That was a month ago.

Coughlin noted that “Cruz is in a different category,” but added “I’d like to have him, don’t get me wrong.”

So would Manning, it seems, although he’s been more subtle than his coach throughout the process.