NFL DURABLE ELI, GI­ANTS SET TO FACE WIN­LESS BROWNS

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Tom Withers The As­so­ci­ated Press

Eli Man­ning has started 194 con­sec­u­tive games for the New York Gi­ants, a re­mark­able run of dura­bil­ity that has kept them rel­e­vant for more than a decade.

At this point, the Cleve­land Browns would set­tle for one QB mak­ing it through a full game.

Since mak­ing his first start on Nov. 21, 2004, Man­ning has not missed a game, the longest streak among ac­tive NFL play­ers — at any po­si­tion — and the third-longest for a quar­ter­back in league his­tory. Only Brett Favre (294) and Man­ning’s older brother, Pey­ton (227), have been as sturdy be­hind cen­ter.

Let’s com­pare that to the Browns, who have gone through 21 start­ing QBs over the same span.

In their game notes, the Gi­ants er­ro­neously stated the Browns have used 24 starters in Man­ning’s era. But, hey, who’s count­ing? “I don’t re­ally know how to take that,” Man­ning said ear­lier this week when told about the stun­ning dis­par­ity as the Gi­ants (73) pre­pared to visit the Browns (0-11), whose quar­ter­back carousel has been whizzing at a record rate in 2016.

On Sun­day, quar­ter­back Josh McCown re­turns to Cleve­land’s start­ing lineup, re­plac­ing rookie Cody Kessler who sus­tained his se­cond con­cus­sion in less than a month last week and is only play­ing this sea­son be­cause the Browns can’t pro­tect any of their quar­ter­backs.

They’ve started three and Cleve­land has used six QBs in 2016 if you in­clude wide re­ceiver

Ter­relle Pryor, who started nine games as Oak­land’s quar­ter­back in 2013 be­fore chang­ing po­si­tions to sal­vage his ca­reer.

The re­volv­ing door at quar­ter­back has only made things more chal­leng­ing for Browns first-year coach Hue Jack­son, who was al­ready strapped with an in­ex­pe­ri­enced ros­ter and has been forced to ad­just on the fly.

For now, Jack­son can only dream of sta­bil­ity.

“He is out there all the time,” Jack­son said while prais­ing Man­ning’s tough­ness, tim­ing and ac­count­abil­ity. “That is what gives you a chance to be 7-3.”

As ex­pected, Man­ning down­played his steadi­ness and spread around the

praise for his per­ma­nence to oth­ers the same way he dis­sects a de­fense.

“I ob­vi­ously give credit to my of­fen­sive line and run­ning backs, re­ceivers get­ting open quickly,” he said.

“I try not to hang back there too long and take too many hits. I know I work hard in the off­sea­son on flex­i­bil­ity and strength and know­ing my pro­tec­tions and hav­ing a plan on my pass reads and try not to take un­nec­es­sary hits. I want to be out there each and ev­ery week for my team, for my own­er­ship and coaches and try to put us in a sit­u­a­tion to win each game.”

Here are some other things to note as the Browns try to end the worst start in their 66-year his­tory:

BE CARE­FUL: The Gi­ants have never faced a

team as bad as the Browns — record-wise.

New York hasn’t played a 0-11 team in its rich his­tory. The clos­est was a matchup with a 0-10 Dal­las team on Dec. 4, 1960, a game that ended in a 31-31 tie. The Gi­ants are 9-3 against teams 0-4 or worse since the 1970 merger.

Still, New York coach Ben McA­doo has been preach­ing to his team the im­por­tance of not tak­ing the Browns lightly.

“The records in this league, you can throw out the win­dow,” he said. “Cleve­land is a young and im­prov­ing team. They are hun­gry to win. A lot of ball­games come down to the very end, a hand­ful of them are within a score. We need to be ready to go.”

RG3 AND OUT: Robert Grif­fin III re­turned to prac­tice this week and the quar­ter­back could re­turn and

play in one of Cleve­land’s last four games.

The 26-year-old broke a bone in his left shoul­der in the sea­son opener, a set­back that only re­in­forced the no­tion he’s in­jury prone. Grif­fin, who signed a two-year deal with Cleve­land, still needs to be cleared for con­tact, but the Browns have a bye next week, giv­ing him more time to get ready.

HEY, BROTHER: The Nas­sibs are re­unit­ing over the hol­i­day week­end.

New York backup quar­ter­back Ryan Nas­sib has never lined up across from his brother, Browns rookie de­fen­sive end Carl Nas­sib, and that won’t hap­pen un­less Man­ning is hurt or taken out. Still, the broth­ers are ex­cited to be on the same field for the first time.

Browns de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ray Hor­ton joked that this week’s goal is for

Carl to sack Ryan.

“That has al­ways been a dream of mine,” Carl­said.

BALL HAWK: Gi­ants safety Lan­don Collin is on a roll. The se­cond-year pro from Alabama has five in­ter­cep­tions in the past four games, in­clud­ing a gamechang­ing touch­down re­turn against the Rams in Lon­don on Oct. 23 and a game-sav­ing pick last week to close out the Bears. He’s the first Gi­ants player with five picks in a four-game span in a sin­gle sea­son since Wil­lie Wil­liams in 1968.

“He just has a nose for the foot­ball,” McCown said. “He flies around, plays phys­i­cal and is a re­ally in­tel­li­gent foot­ball player. I cer­tainly un­der­stand why peo­ple would be putting his name out there for the player of the year on de­fense be­cause he shows up on tape.”

SETH WENIG — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

New York Gi­ants wide re­ceiver Ster­ling Shep­ard (87) cel­e­brates with quar­ter­back Eli Man­ning (10) and run­ning back Paul Perkins (28) af­ter scor­ing a touch­down against the Chicago Bears in East Ruther­ford, N.J. on Nov. 20. Man­ning has started 194 con­sec­u­tive games for the New York Gi­ants, a re­mark­able run of dura­bil­ity that has kept them rel­e­vant for more than a decade. At this point, the Cleve­land Browns would set­tle for one QB mak­ing it through a full game.

BILL KOSTROUN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

New York Gi­ants quar­ter­back Ryan Nas­sib (12) throws a pass as New York Jets’ Lorenzo Mauldin (55) pur­sues him Aug. 27. Backup quar­ter­back Nas­sib has never lined up across from his brother, Browns rookie de­fen­sive end Carl Nas­sib, and that won’t hap­pen to­day un­less Man­ning is hurt or taken out. Still, the broth­ers are ex­cited to be on the same field for the first time.

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