Former Wildcat Lorenzen Ready if Manning Can't Play

By: Tom Canavan, Associated Press
By: Tom Canavan, Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Because of his weight, Jared Lorenzen has called a lot of nasty things on the football field.

"Round Mound," "Hefty Lefty" and "J-Load" are just a few.

Lorenzen is ready and eager to accept a new title this weekend — starting quarterback for the New York Giants.

There is a big if, though. The 285-pound left-hander only gets it if Eli Manning can't play against the Green Bay Packers this weekend because of a sprained right shoulder suffered in the 45-35 loss to Dallas on Sunday night.

Manning took some snaps, made a few handoffs and tossed lightly to test his bruised right shoulder on Wednesday. He did not practice and coach Tom Coughlin gave no indication whether he would play Sunday.

"I am encouraged by his progress," Coughlin said of Manning. "He is less sore than he was the day before, that kind of thing. The swelling is way down. So I'm encouraged by that."

In his gut, Lorenzen expects Manning to start his 43rd consecutive game for the Giants.

"If he is fine at all, he is going to go in there and play," Lorenzen said after leading the first-team offense in practice. "That's the type of competitor he is. That's Eli. Not everyone gets to see that. I know deep down that if he can, he will be out there."

Lorenzen, however, is preparing as if he will get the call. He even admits his anxiety level is rising.

"But that's good," he said. "If you're not excited and if you're not anxious about this opportunity, then you're not alive."

Until a couple of days ago, Lorenzen had never thrown a pass in a regular or postseason game in his first two seasons in the NFL. His only real regular-season action came on a couple of quarterback sneaks in which the Giants used his bulk for a little extra push.

Lorenzen, who hasn't started a game of significance since Kentucky played Tennessee in the Wildcats' final game of the 2003 season, got to throw three passes on the Giants' final series against the Cowboys.

"It is definitely faster," said Lorenzen, who completed one pass for seven yards "You can't get overwhelmed. That's the thing I am trying not to do. All the guys are telling me to just play my game."

Lorenzen, who sat out the 2004 NFL because of personal problems, doesn't expect the Giants game plan to change much if he plays. He said offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride probably will call a few more plays that he likes. However, he also said the goal of the offense will be to run the ball.

Lorenzen was impressed watching the Packers defense on film on Tuesday with Manning. He said the defensive line was tough, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk are outstanding linebackers and cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson good defenders. He also expects the Packers to blitz more, noting that's how the Giants would go after an inexperienced quarterback.

"You have to get up there and make plays and not try to force stuff," Lorenzen said. "I know my role. That's not to lose the game. Protect the ball. No turnovers."

His only concern is his timing with the starting receivers, Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer and tight end Jeremy Shockey. It showed on Sunday, when Lorenzen and Burress couldn't get together on a long pass down the right sideline.

Burress and Toomer spent time working with Lorenzen after practice, getting used to how hard he throws and the rotation of his pass, which is the opposite of the right-handed Manning.

"Everyone has confidence in him," Toomer said. "There's nothing too crazy out of L-Lo. He knows the offense."

Center Shaun O'Hara said very little will change for the offensive line if Lorenzen plays. They just have to get used to his cadence and block.

"The inside joke is we can run the quarterback sneak all day and gain four yards every time," O'Hara said.


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