The debate over whether or not Eli Manning is an elite quarterback began last summer when he said that he would consider himself in the same class as his brother, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady. Manning backed up those comments by passing for nearly 5,000 yards while leading the New York Giants to their second Lombardi Trophy with him under center.
"To quote one of our captains, you can't spell elite without Eli," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said of his quarterback after a regular season win over the New England Patriots.
Another word you can't spell without E-L-I is "unselfish," which is the word newly signed Giants tight end Martellus Bennett used to describe Manning.
"Oh man, I don't think there's a better quarterback than him in the NFL right now," Bennett told Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger during minicamp. "Watching his approach to the game and the way he coaches everybody up and gets everybody involved, I think he's an unselfish quarterback, which is what you want. He throws a very catchable ball, which is always awesome. He's a great guy, a great quarterback."
Bennett spent the first four seasons of his career as the No. 2 tight end for the Dallas Cowboys behind Jason Witten, who averaged 122.5 targets per season over that span. Bennett, a former second-round pick, was targeted 130 times total with the Cowboys, including a career-low 26 times in 2011.
"I mean, he's just looking for the open guy," Bennett said. "It doesn't matter who it is or what number you are. If you're open, he's going to hit you. You have to be ready. That's what makes it so fun playing in this offense because anytime you beat your guy, you know you could get the ball."
Bennett recently bulked up to 291 pounds; it will be hard for Manning to miss him this season.