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Mara — Eli starting all 16 games would be ‘ideal’

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants owner John Mara would consider it ideal if longtime quarterback Eli Manning started all 16 games and No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones didn’t see the field during the 2019 season. He also cautioned to temper expectations on the rookie quarterback based solely off the preseason opener.

Mara reiterated Tuesday what head coach Pat Shurmur has said on multiple occasions: “Eli is our starting quarterback.”

The plan is for Manning to be behind center on Sept. 8 for the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys with Jones as the backup. If the Giants season goes as they think it will, that won’t change.

“I hope Eli has a great year and Daniel never sees the field,” Mara said. “That would be, in an ideal word, you’d like to see that. At the end of the day, that is going to be a decision by the head coach as to when, or if, Daniel ends up playing this year.”

Mara said the decision ultimately rests on the shoulders of Shurmur, just like it did for coach Tom Coughlin the last time the Giants were in this situation after trading for Manning in 2004 NFL Draft. Coughlin eventually inserted Manning into the starting lineup in Week 11 in place of Kurt Warner with their record at 5-4.

The Giants’ record this season will determine if, or when, Jones gets on the field. General manager Dave Gettleman and Shurmur told Manning immediately after drafting Jones that it will be the two-time Super Bowl winner’s job as long as he wins games.

That would keep Jones pinned to the bench.

“I’d be very happy about that because it means we’re having a great year and Eli is having a great year,” Mara said in his first full session with the Giants media since the draft.

The Giants have been ecstatic about what they’ve seen from Jones since April’s draft, even if it’s what they expected. He picked up the playbook and immediately looked like he belonged in the spring, has played well during training camp and was close to perfect in his preseason debut.

Jones went 5-for-5 with a touchdown pass on his only drive Thursday night against the New York Jets. It’s a small sample size, but it’s something.

“So far so good. He’s everything we thought he would be,” Mara said. “He’s been terrific on the practice field, did a good job the other night.

“I think people need to temper their enthusiasm a little bit. It’s one preseason game, one series, but so far so good.”

Jones’ time will come. Manning is in the final year of his current contract. The Giants don’t appear ready to address that any time soon.

“I think we’re in one year at a time mode right now,” Mara said.

Manning, 38, knows his future is on the back-burner. Any decision will have to wait until the offseason.

It’s a reality he seems to have accepted.

“Yeah, I think that is fair. I’ve never been one to ever be concerned or worry about contracts and things like that,” Manning said. “Won’t start now.”

The future of Gettleman and Shurmur seem more secure. They’re under contract past 2019 and they’re now married to the new quarterback. Mara just wants to see progress. That means more wins — the Giants have eight in the past two seasons combined — and potentially competing for a spot in the postseason. They’ve made the playoffs just once in the past seven years.

Mara expects this team to do well. He seems to believe they’re better than most expect, and even thinks they’re better than the 2004 Giants that Manning joined with the young talent they’ve accumulated in the past two drafts, an improved offensive line and an improved locker room. Mara didn’t think the locker room was as strong as it could have been during a 5-11 campaign last season.

The belief inside 1925 Giants Drive is that Gettleman has this organization headed in the right direction with their quarterback of the future in place. Despite the public criticism, there isn’t a concern about the direction of the franchise or the job the controversial general manager has done.

“Not at all. I think the best thing for me about Dave is he makes decisions that he feels are in the best interest of the franchise and he doesn’t give a damn what people think about it, be it the media or fans or anybody,” Mara said. “He has the courage of his convictions. And you have to have that.”

Mara believes in Gettleman and Shurmur perhaps as much as the coach and GM believe in Manning and Jones.

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Saints QB Drew Brees says he plans to start vs. Arizona on Sunday

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METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said he might wait until Sunday to name his starting quarterback. But Drew Brees hopes to make the decision easy for him.

When asked if he is playing Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, Brees said, “That’s the plan. We’ll see.”

Brees said he felt good throwing the football when he returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday — just five weeks after having thumb surgery on his throwing hand. He said the decision will come down to “just making sure I can be me.”

And when asked if it will strictly be his decision, Brees said, “I’ll tell Sean if I’m ready, and he’ll believe me.”

Payton told the Arizona media that Brees has been medically cleared, and that it is just a matter of making sure he has the proper strength “and all those things necessary” to throw the ball effectively.

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Kelechi Osemele says he’s having shoulder surgery; still not authorized by Jets

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The injury dispute between the New York Jets and former Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele has reached a new level, with Osemele saying Wednesday he will have surgery Friday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, even if it’s not authorized by the team.

Kelechi said he received a third opinion Tuesday from a Boston-based doctor, who recommended immediate surgery. Kelechi said the injury is “pretty bad” and that his labrum is “torn off the bone.”

The Jets haven’t commented on the matter, but sources say they believe Osemele can play through the pain and have surgery after the season. The organization is fining him for conduct detrimental to the team because he’s not practicing.

Osemele confirmed he’s being fined the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement — $579,000 per week, the amount of his game checks.

The Jets haven’t responded yet to his decision to have surgery Friday, he said.

“We sent them the full doctor’s report (Wednesday morning),” Osemele told reporters in the locker room. “We don’t know yet. They have been cooperative. They sent the worker’s comp forms that I needed to get the surgery, so it’s moving forward.

“I think they’re doing their best to do the right thing,” he continued. “Now that they’ve done that, it’s really their decision whether they choose to authorize it or not. But I have to take care of my body. I have to take care of my health.”

In a statement to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Osemele’s agents, Andrew Kessler and David Mulugheta, said the Jets’ own insurance provider has approved the surgery. They said if the Jets don’t authorize the surgery beforehand, Osemele will have his rights under the CBA enforced through the legal process.

Osemele said the Jets initially sent a blank MRI to his second-opinion doctor. On the second try, they sent the wrong MRI before finally getting it right. Osemele said general manager Joe Douglas told him it was an honest mistake. He said Douglas was “upset” when he informed him recently that he wanted surgery.

The Jets claim Osemele had a pre-existing injury when he arrived in March via trade with the Oakland Raiders, source said. Osemele said he wasn’t aware of that, and that he didn’t start to feel pain until Aug. 5. He said he took Toradol injections for the first three regular-season games. In that period,he never appeared on the injury report for his shoulder, which could land the team in hot water.

“I went as long as I could on painkillers,” he said. “They were masking the pain. Now it’s at the point where I can’t do anything about it.”

Osemele said the team “wants me to keep taking Toradol and brace it up.” Sources said the team is suspicious of the timing because it claims Osemele didn’t start complaining until he was on the verge of losing his starting job after Week 3.

Financially, it behooves him to have the surgery now, so he can rehab and be healthy for the offseason, when he presumably will be released by the Jets.

“Once (the painkiller) stops working and it doesn’t do anything for you anymore, then you’re at the point where it’s ‘Now what do I do? Do I take Vicodin? Where’s the line? How much should a player play through pain? What is the limit? Is there a limit? Does my health really matter?’ “

Coach Adam Gase declined comment, saying the team wants to keep the matter in-house.

Osemele filed a grievance and held a conference call Monday with the NFLPA to discuss its strategy. He said what the team is doing is “ethically and morally wrong,” and that he feels “slightly disrespected.”

Osemele said he has received support from his teammates, adding, “(They’re) saying like, ‘It’s bulls—. Sorry for what you’re going through. I can’t believe this is happening.’ S— like that.”

The Jets inherited the final two years of Osemele’s contract when they acquired him from the Raiders — a total of $21.9 million. The remainder of this season’s salary ($5.79 million) is guaranteed because he’s a vested veteran and is entitled to one-time termination pay.

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Patriots’ Josh Gordon lands on IR

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have placed wide receiver Josh Gordon on injured reserve, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

Gordon had been playing through a knee injury, and then was knocked out of the team’s Oct. 10 win over the New York Giants when he injured his knee while attempting to make a tackle on an interception return. He missed the Patriots’ 33-0 win over the New York Jets on Monday.

Through six games, Gordon had been starting alongside Julian Edelman, and totaled 20 catches for 287 yards and one touchdown.

The Patriots still have Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and newly acquired Mohamed Sanu atop the depth chart. Also, first-round draft choice N’Keal Harry is eligible to play in a game for the first time Nov. 3 against Baltimore after being designated to return off injured reserve (knee).

Undrafted free agents Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski round out the depth chart.

As for Gordon, he is eligible for unrestricted free agency after the season. The veteran was indefinitely suspended by the league at the end of last season, but that ban was lifted by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Aug. 16, allowing Gordon to open the season on the active roster.

The Patriots are expected to use their final designated to return spot on offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, which would mean Gordon’s season is over. Teams can only designate two players to return off IR.

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