Giants' Daniel Jones getting first start in preseason finale
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — While Daniel Jones seemingly is the future of the New York Giants at quarterback, the sixth pick overall in the draft has a lot to learn before taking over from Eli Manning.
A perfect example came at practice Monday.
Jones was intercepted on a 10-to-15 yard pass toward the left sideline by Ronald Zamort. The second-year cornerback started to return the ball upfield and Jones, wearing a red no-contact vest took the right angle and ran him down.
Instead of being satisfied, Jones lunged at Zamort with his hand and appeared to knock the ball out of his hand while sliding to the ground.
Maybe it was a good play in a regular-season game? It also was risky for the quarterback heir apparent who many think will replace Manning sometime this season if the team goes south.
The tackle-strip attempt could have gone south, too. What happens if Jones either jams or breaks a finger, or hurts a knee or leg during his fall.
Sure, it was a remote chance, but the play was needless and foolish.
"Probably not the best idea, but just trying to finish the play," Jones said after practice. "You hopefully don't have to be in that situation to begin with, but probably not smart."
If there was a surprise, it was coach Pat Shurmur's comments when asked about the play. He found nothing wrong with it, at least when discussing it with reporters.
"He was trying to get the ball out. That's the reaction of a good football player," Shurmur said. "Now we obviously don't want him to get hurt, but yeah, he was trying to get the ball out, which I think he did, didn't he? It was right over there near you guys. So, that would have been a really good play."
Shurmur is giving Jones a chance to see what it's like to start when the Giants (3-0) face the Patriots (3-0) in New England on Thursday.
Manning is getting the game off along with many of the starters on both sides of the ball.
"I'm certainly excited, but I don't think the preparation changes a whole lot," Jones said. "I think going through the week we'll do the same things, and I'll certainly do the same things to prepare myself to play, so in these last three games I've obviously known I'm going to play a good bit, so just the same preparation going into this week."
Jones has been outstanding in the first three preseason games. The Duke product has hit 25 of 30 passes (83.3 for 369 yards and two touchdowns. His one negative is that he has fumbled three times, once on a snap and twice on sacks. Two of the plays have resulted in turnovers.
The performance has many Giants fans calling for Jones to start the season opener against Dallas on Sept. 8.
Shurmur and co-owner John Mara have said Manning, who is entering the final year of his contract, is the starter entering the season. Their hope is he keeps the job.
Jones says he isn't paying attention to the outside chatter.
"My focus is on what we're doing here, what I'm doing to help the team move forward, and I understand that there's a plan, and that the coaches have a plan for that," he said. "So, I certainly trust that, and my job is to prepare myself, but also to help the team move forward, help the team prepare in whatever my role is, and I'm certainly accepting of that."
When asked if he is ready to play this season, he sidestepped the question.
"I feel like I have improved and have made steps in the right direction," Jones said. "There is a lot to work on, but my job is to be prepared and I trust the plan."
NOTES: During a chippy practice, Saquon Barkley tossed a ball at former Penn State teammate and cornerback Grant Haley after a run. Haley tossed it back and the two exchanged some trash-talking. "That's just guys being guys," Haley said. "We were just gnawing at each other and getting under each other's skin. It's all out of love."