One dreadful preseason performance cost top overall draft choice Eli Manning the New York Giants' starting quarterback job, as Coach Tom Coughlin yesterday named veteran Kurt Warner his starter for the regular season opener at Philadelphia in 13 days.
Manning, obtained by the Giants in a draft-day trade with San Diego after telling the Chargers he wouldn't play for them, appeared to be leading the competition until he looked overwhelmed in a 17-10 loss Friday to the New York Jets. Manning completed only 4 of 14 passes for 20 yards, and threw two interceptions and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
So Coughlin opted to use the insurance policy provided when the Giants signed Warner, a two-time league most valuable player in St. Louis, after he was released by the Rams in June. Coughlin informed the players of his decision in separate meetings yesterday, and said at a news conference in East Rutherford, N.J.: "Kurt will start the season at quarterback. We give Kurt the ball and say, 'Kurt, let's go win.' ''
Warner completed 9 of 11 passes Friday for 104 yards and is 21 for 29 for 224 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in the Giants' three games. Manning is 20 for 42 for 228 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. The Giants host the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday in their preseason finale, a game that once promised to be the final audition for the starting job.
Warner has a 35-15 regular season record as an NFL starter but struggled his final two seasons in St. Louis after leading the Rams to two Super Bowls. Even Warner has said that Manning will become the Giants' starter when he proves he is ready. Manning told reporters he "was given a fair chance'' to win the job and failed to prove he should be an immediate starter, as his older brother Peyton was as a rookie with the Indianapolis Colts in 1998.
"After the way I played this past week, obviously I didn't go out there and do what I had to do,'' Eli Manning said. "I wasn't upset by it. I kind of feared it might come, but it doesn't change anything. I have still got a lot to learn.''
Said Coughlin: "He didn't have a good experience the other night [but] I really don't think it was a setback. I think it was a learning experience. I think he is going to have circumstances come along in his career. . . . Everyone does.''
* BRONCOS: Running back Mike Anderson will see a specialist today for another opinion on his groin injury and could miss the entire season.
Defensive end Luther Elliss is expected to miss up to two weeks because of a torn pectoral muscle.
* JETS: Agent Tom Condon continued negotiations on a contract extension for quarterback Chad Pennington, hoping to beat Wednesday's deadline set by Pennington's camp. If they fail to reach an agreement, Condon and Pennington will stop negotiations until after the season.
* BILLS: Buffalo backup quarterback Travis Brown was scheduled to have an MRI exam on his left knee yesterday, a day after he was hurt during a preseason game against the Colts.
* SEAHAWKS: Seattle placed No. 3 quarterback Brock Huard, who hasn't practiced since having muscle spasms in his back on Aug. 5, on injured reserve.
News services contributed to this report.