After colliding with the Panters’ Julius Peppers in another “lose your franchise player in a game that doesn’t mean shit” , Giants QB Eli Manning could miss a few days of practice. Or a few months. Who knows? Coach Tom Coughlin will tell you when he’s good and ready…and perhaps not even then. From the New York Times’ Bill Pennington:

In a conference call with reporters, Coughlin, known to be circumspect, sounded uneasy about Manning’s prognosis and conceded he was “very concerned.”

Coughlin provided little information about the results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam Manning had Sunday. He said Manning was going through an additional series of tests on his elbow.

The Giants’ team doctor, Russell Warren, will examine Manning on Monday.

“We won’t really know anything further until then,” Coughlin said. “We are waiting. We are hoping for the best.”

Still, Manning said he did not think his elbow had been seriously injured.

“It feels fine now, it just felt a little funny when it happened,” he said Saturday night. X-rays of the elbow were negative. Manning was not available to reporters Sunday.

Coughlin said Manning woke up Sunday with soreness in his elbow.

Asked if he wished Manning had not continued to play after the injury, Coughlin said: “I didn’t know anything about it – that there was any reason for concern. Not until halftime. Eli did feel it felt O.K. to throw.”

The injury, whatever its severity, underscores the Giants’ continuing problem of protecting Manning, their young franchise player. The offensive line was the most noticeable weakness last season, but was expected to be much improved after some off-season revamping. Against Carolina’s aggressive front four, however, Manning was under constant pressure.

After the game, Coughlin said he was disappointed with how the offensive line had handled the Panthers’ pressure, especially because the Giants had devoted so much practice time to developing better protection for Manning.

(MONDAY 8/22 ADDENDUM : Don’t worry, it’s just a bruise.)