Giants make roster moves, sign LB Terrell Manning

The Giants have signed LB Terrell Manning off the Cincinnati practice squad.

Colin Kaepernick, Erik Walden, Terrell ManningEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Linebacker Terrell Manning, who was with the Giants in training camp, returned to the team today when he was signed off the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad.
To make room on the roster, the Giants waived linebacker Justin Anderson, who was signed off the practice squad on Saturday and played on Sunday each of the last two weeks.

Manning, 6-2 and 237 pounds, is in his third NFL season. He played three games on special teams earlier this season for the Chicago Bears – Sept. 22 at the Jets, Sept. 28 vs. Green Bay and Oct. 12 at Atlanta. In three NFL seasons, Manning has played in nine regular-season games (five with Green Bay in 2012 and one with San Diego last year) and in two postseason games for the Packers in 2012.

He first signed with the Giants on June 16 and was waived on Aug. 30. Manning played in all five preseason games for the Giants and had five tackles (four solo) on defense and three tackles (two solo) on special teams, as well as a fumble recovery.

After leaving the Giants, Manning spent two weeks on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad before moving to Chicago, where he was moved between the active roster and the practice squad. The Bears waived him on Nov. 11 and he was signed to Cincinnati’s practice squad on Nov. 18.

The North Carolina State product was a fifth-round draft choice of the Packers in 2012, the 163rd overall selection. As a rookie, he was slowed by a digestive illness in training camp and head and shoulder injuries during the regular season. Manning made his NFL debut in the season opener vs. San Francisco, but suffered a concussion that sidelined him for the next five games. He finished the season with three special teams tackles, plus two more in the NFC Wild Card Game vs. Minnesota.

Manning was credited with seven tackles and a pass defensed in three preseason games before he was waived by the Packers on Aug. 31, 2013. He was awarded off waivers to the Chargers the following day. Manning played in San Diego’s loss at Tennessee on Sept. 22 and was released three days later. He was signed to the Chargers’ practice squad on Sept. 28 and remained there for the remainder of the season.

San Diego signed Manning to a reserve/future contract on Jan. 14 and waived him on April 14. He was awarded the next day to the Vikings, who released him on May 13.

Manning was a two-year starter and three-year letter-winner at N.C. State, where he played in 36 games with 26 starts and was credited with 207 tackles (128 solo), 10.5 sacks and five interceptions. He chose to forego his final season to enter the draft.

Zack Martin Ready For Final Push After Strong Start To Rookie Season

IRVING, Texas – One media session with Zack Martin perfectly encapsulates how young and how old the rookie guard can seem at once.

Martin spoke to reporters at his locker Tuesday afternoon after he spent the bye weekend in South Bend, Ind., watching Notre Dame – a team he was playing for less than a year ago. The line of questioning quickly turned to Sunday’s game against New York, which raised a stark contrast.

Zack Martin, Frostee RuckerIn his first season in the NFL, Martin is helping to pave the way for the league’s best rushing attack. He’s also about to play just his third division game, and his first NFC East road game.

“Obviously, this is my first year, so I’m kind of just learning on the fly about how everything works in the division,” Martin said. “I know we’re excited for every game, and like I said, the most important game is the next one, and that happens to be a divisional game.”

Sunday’s kickoff against the Giants will be just the 11th of Martin’s pro career. On the other hand, his sterling rookie season is not going unnoticed. On Monday, NFL.com released its list of leading vote-getters for the Pro Bowl at each position. Martin is the current leader in the clubhouse among NFL guards for the honor – joining Tyron Smith, the No. 1 tackle, and Travis Frederick, the No. 1 center.

Befitting his surprising level of maturity, Martin responded with impressive acumen when asked if he had a reaction to that statistic.

“Not really. Like I’ve said, we’re focusing on New York,” he said. “If it doesn’t have anything to do with that, then we’re not worried about it.”

New York will be one of just a few places where Martin and the Dallas offensive line will have an opportunity to showcase the ground game that has helped them to a 7-3 record. The Cowboys play two home games in the next six weeks, but their four road games all look likely to be played in wintery conditions.

Martin, who played plenty of his college career in similar conditions, said the cold shouldn’t affect what the Cowboys are able to do on offense – nor is it something they can concern themselves with.

“Playing in the cold is fun, and doing what we do is great in the cold weather. But along with the schedule, that’s not something we’re worrying about,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, we’re going to come out there and try to play our best football.”

That seamless transition, from inexperienced rookie to savvy-sounding veteran, seems to happen often with Martin – as it did with Frederick in 2013. Martin has never been part of a playoff push. In fact, his longest college season, 14 games in 2012, was two fewer contests than an NFL regular season.

“I learn something new every day. I’ve said this all along, but I’m lucky to be with the group that we have and it’s definitely easier learning with them,” he said.

For all the recognition, though, Martin was quick to shoot down the idea that the transition has been easy. The Cowboys inserted him into the starting lineup immediately after drafting him 16th overall, but he said the acclimation is still something he’s dealing with.

“It’s been extremely tough, getting ready each week for a very good opponent and very good individual matchups,” Martin said. “The best advice I got before I came into the NFL was you’ve got to have a short memory and you can get down if something goes wrong, because you’re going against great guys and it’s going to happen.”

That said, to channel Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, none of this seems too big for the soon-to-be 24-year-old. The Cowboys will need that to continue to prove true in the coming month – and the rookie seems quite aware of that himself.

“We’re getting geared up to go up to New York and to play a tough game up there, and we know the season really starts now,” Martin said. “We’ve put ourselves in position to do something, but it’s what we do from here that counts.”

Spence, Williams divvy up Shazier’s job

The Steelers have been using two players to fill in when Ryan Shazier has been injured。

Regular Season Houston at PittsburghThe argument could be made that No. 1 pick Ryan Shazier has become such a presence on defense that it takes not one but two players to replace him.

The Steelers used Sean Spence and Vince Williams at inside linebacker alongside Lawrence Timmons after Shazier went down with a sprained ankle in last Sunday’s 43-23 victory over Baltimore.

The plan is to use Spence and Williams in place of Shazier again this Sunday against the New York Jets; Spence in the regular alignment and Williams in five-defensive backs “nickel” sets.

“Whatever the team needs, I’m down for,” Spence said.

Added Williams, “I think it’ll be fine. Both of us have some game experience, me getting a lot of it last year and him getting a lot of it this year. I think we’ll be able to go out there and be more than adequate.”

Williams started 11 games as a rookie in 2013 after inside linebacker Larry Foote was lost early in the season due to a torn biceps.

Spence started four consecutive games this season – from Sept. 28 against Tampa Bay through Oct. 20 against Houston – when Shazier was unavailable due to a knee injury. Spence had played in just three games previously, having finally made it onto the field this season after recovering from a knee injury sustained in August 2012.
Using Spence and Williams in the manner the Steelers did against the Ravens and manner in which they intend to use them against the Jets is designed to allow both to contribute on defense and continue to play multiple special teams, and to free up Timmons to cover a tight end in obvious passing situations.

Just as an example, rookie tight end Jace Amaro is second among all Jets with 32 receptions and 285 receiving yards.

Things went according to plan against Baltimore, and Spence maintained he’s ready to do what he can to help carry out the plan again against the Jets.

“I had to knock off a lot of rust,” Spence said. “I didn’t think there would be that much rust. But missing two years, I feel like I’m getting better each and every game.”

Williams hasn’t played as much this season as he did last season but considers himself a better player when called upon.

“I feel 100 percent better,” he said. “I feel like any sophomore player coming into his second year of the NFL should feel. I felt like I did fine (last year). By the end of the year I feel like I really panned out, started to get a grasp of the defense and started to make a few more plays.”

The Steelers’ defense has been making more plays during the current three-game winning streak, and it has been showing signs that the incorporation of new players due to roster turnover, injuries and/or inconsistent play has become less of a concern than it was at the outset of the season.