EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning looked around during passing drills on Tuesday and couldn't find Preston Parker, the receiver who had dropped a couple key passes in the team's first two games.
Manning insisted on Monday that Parker would still be one of his targets. Tom Coughlin had other thoughts Tuesday.
Coughlin released Parker and signed defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis for his banged up defensive line. It was a need, but also more.
Coughlin didn't say it but the message was clear after two losses to open the season: Produce or pay the price.
The release of Parker will leave the Giants short-handed heading into a game against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night. The Redskins have the NFL's No. 2 ranked pass defense.
With Victor Cruz sidelined with a calf injury, Parker was playing the slot receiver with Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. on the outside.
All the Giants receivers can fit into any spot so offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has options. Dwayne Harris and rookie Geremy David will be the third receiver. The Redskins will find out on Thursday who plays the slot and it may change with each formation.
It probably won't be Cruz. While he insists he is closer to playing, he has not practiced in more than a month. He just started running on grass on Tuesday, so Game 4 seems more likely.
"If you know Coach Coughlin, it's going to take a lot," Cruz said of playing. "So we'll see, I'm going to keep continuing to put the work in myself, and we'll see where this takes me."
For the Manning and the receivers, seeing Parker let go was a surprise.
"Didn't see that coming," Manning said. "But, hey, some guys have to step up and some guys are going to have to make some plays."
Beckham did it on Sunday in the loss to Atlanta, catching seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
The pressure now seems to be on Randle, who has four catches for 28 yards this season. The fourth-year receiver was slowed by tendinitis in his knee in training camp and missed two weeks. However, the slow start has left him frustrated.
"I put the pressure on myself regardless of the situation," Randle said. "I want to make plays and that's why I feel I am here."
Randle hopes to get some time in the slot, noting it's easier to read the defense in that spot.
Davis, who showed potential to go deep in the preseason, was disappointed seeing Parker go, noting the four-year veteran was a mentor. However, he is anxious to show what he can do.
"Every week I prepare as if I was going to be a starter, if I was going to play," said the sixth-round draft pick from Connecticut, who had a 5-yard reception against the Falcons Sunday. "Obviously with the situation with Preston being gone, it's possible my role will increase."
Washington coach Jay Gruden saw Harris play with the Cowboys. He can block but is still unproven as a receiver. He has yet to catch a pass with the Giants.
"He's a good gadget guy, a reverse screens guy, catches a lot of screens and very good after the catch," Gruden said of Harris. "He's a dangerous guy to go along with the guys they already have. I'm sure they have it figured out. Coach Coughlin has a plan and Coach McAdoo and we've just got to play our style of football and do what we do."