EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Saquon Barkley has dazzled his teammates with the Giants this spring even though he hasn't taken a hit yet in the NFL.
That first hit, though, is coming soon. And it may happen long before he ever gets into a game.
"I'm excited to get out there in training camp, so I can hit his ass," Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison said on the first day of minicamp Tuesday. "See what he's made of. I told him, it's not Penn State. He's not going up against (DT) Josh Banks at Wake Forest."
Harrison was laughing when he said it, but it should still serve as a friendly warning to the much-hyped rookie. His teammates are well aware of how good he's supposed to be. Not only do they want to see it for themselves, they also want to make sure he's put to the test.
"Hey man, you get him between the lines, get the ball in your hand, I don't give a damn what anybody says -- it's time to work," Harrison said. "So no, I don't think we'll be able to hit him too hard, but I'm going to hit his ass."
Eli Manning obviously believes, like Pat Shurmur does, that he still has "years" remaining in his NFL career. He also thinks those could be some prime years. And that's why he disagreed on Tuesday with comments from his former center, Shaun O'Hara, who said the last few years were "hard to watch" as the Giants "wasted (Manning's) prime" behind a poor offensive line -- comments echoed by former Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck.
"I don't agree with that," Manning said. "I appreciate them. They are close friends of mine and we won a few championships together. I appreciate their loyalty and support but I wouldn't necessarily agree with their comments."
Manning had strongly and angrily defended himself against allegations of fraud in a suit brought against him and the Giants over allegedly fake game-used memorabilia -- a suit that was finally settled last month. Manning, who had insisted he "had nothing to hide" and hadn't done anything wrong, had little to say about the resolution on Tuesday.
"Just glad it's over," he said.
Since the settlement, the Giants fired three members of their equipment staff -- Ed and Joe Skiba and Ed Wagner Jr.
The Giants first-team offensive line on Day 1 of minicamp was LT Nate Solder, LG Will Hernandez, C Jon Halapio, RG Patrick Omameh and RT Ereck Flowers. Halapio was a bit of a surprise, though he had gotten plenty of first-team reps ahead of incumbent Brett Jones this spring.
"You can tell the coaching staff likes him a whole lot, just because of his aggression," Harrison said. "He's a strong guy. And if we're going to be that ground and pound team, then I think that plays exactly into his strengths."
As for Flowers, Shurmur gave him some lukewarm praise as he continues to make the switch from left tackle to right.
"I know he's a tough guy and he's out there doing what we ask him to do and he's improving," Shurmur said. "Beyond that, I can't say."
While Odell Beckham's absences from the offseason program were well-documented, Harrison was actually there even less. So why did he skip the "voluntary" program, except for a couple of appearances at OTAs?
"I was minding my own damn business," he said.