Eli Manning has started 128 consecutive games, including the playoffs, so his inability to finish practice on Wednesday due to a "stomach bug" raised more than a few eyebrows in anticipation of Sunday's NFC title game.Two days later, though, the New York Giants' quarterback is "100 percent" and ready to face the 49ers in start No. 129 with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.So how does he account for not missing games in the brutal word of professional football?
"I haven't thought a whole lot about it," Manning told reporters on Friday in East Rutherford, N.J. "I think it's one of those deals. I try to work hard during the offseason and my training, continuing to work hard during the season. If there are things that are preventable, you try to stay away from those things. And that's muscle strains and just trying to stay healthy, heal up from hits, things like that. A lot of it is in your preparation also, understanding when blitzes are coming, when you're protected, when you're not protected, so you're not just taking hits that you don't have to. Some of it is definitely luck."You never know when someone hits you the wrong way or you fall a little differently. Just try to do everything you can with eating right, getting sleep, your workouts, your conditioning, everything that you can control and (hope) for the best."Counting the playoffs, Manning has started 127 of the 132 games in which he's played since being the No. 1 pick of the 2004 NFL draft by San Diego out of Mississippi. His rights were then traded to the Giants.Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the Giants have "always" asked a lot of Manning."Since the day he got here," Coughlin said. "He has been able to handle it and he has proven to us that he could. Anything that we felt we needed to put us in a position to play well or win, we put it on his plate and he has done the extra work in the classroom to understand everything and he has gone on the field and been able to create the mental picture again."We have always given him a lot and he has always handled a lot and there is nothing different about that now."And while he was criticized for the petulant, Elway-esque act that forced the trade, Manning has taken a certain pride in not missing game time."I think as a quarterback, as a teammate, you want to show your teammates that you're going to be here, be competing, be there at practice every day, focused every day, ready to get better and competing every day at practice not walking through anything," he said. "You can have fun. There's times where you can smile and relax, but when you're out there and you're running a play, when you're doing your stuff with the team, you want everything to go perfect."I think you do practice how you play. I enjoy practice. You go to meetings, you go to practice, you put in everything you just talked about -- 'Let's go compete. Let's get better. Let's go learn things.' -- So I look forward to going out to practice every day and getting better and competing."