EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As a collegiate and professional quarterback, Daniel Jones has played in numerous offensive systems, thrown and rushed for thousands of yards, celebrated thrilling victories and endured debilitating defeats. Tomorrow, he will have a new football experience.
"I've never been to a joint practice before," Jones said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Jones and the rest of the Giants will be in Berea, Ohio for two days of workouts with the Cleveland Browns. After they take Saturday off, the teams will square off Sunday in a preseason game in FirstEnergy Stadium. The Giants will arrive home that night and on Tuesday they will hit the road again, to New England for two days of practice with the Patriots. The teams will meet in the preseason finale in MetLife Stadium on Aug. 29.
The meetup with the Browns will be the Giants' first in a practice setting since they worked with the Lions in Detroit in 2018.
Coach Joe Judge participated in numerous joint practices in his eight years as an assistant coach in New England. He has long known Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski and is close to the Patriots' Bill Belichick.
"To me the trust factor's huge, which is part of the reason early on me and Kevin talked way back in the offseason about the possibility of doing this," Judge said. "Part of it is because of our relationship and our experience together. That helps because then you can work together. When you go into these practices, you want to be with someone that you have a relationship with, because then you can work together and make sure, 'Hey, what do you need to see? What do we need to see? Let's work together to make sure we all accomplish that.'
"We talked continuously throughout these last few weeks making sure practice is mapped out for both me and him. We'll wait and see how our teams come out of practice (yesterday) and touch base before we finalize any plans going forward. Whether it's Kevin or Bill or other places I've been with or other guys we've worked with, it's very important in these practices to have a relationship. The players have to understand going in, it's going to be competitive. That's the nature of football, right? It's another team that's going to be competitive. Just like out here, we don't want to get out there and make it something that's not football. We want to get out there and work against each other and keep it between the lines and keep it between the whistles and make sure we play hard, we protect ourselves in every play, but we're also working with the other team, as well."
Jones said, "I think that's understood when you come together as a team that you're going to practice a certain way and be smart and take care of one another. I certainly expect them to do that."
View rare photos of the storied history between the Giants and Browns ahead of their preseason matchup.
The Giants got their first opportunity to break the monotony of training camp in their preseason opener Saturday vs. the Jets. Although the 12-7 loss was hardly a scintillating game, it gave the offense, defense and special teams their first opportunity to face players and schemes they don't see every day. They will expand those horizons in the four days of practices with the Browns and Patriots, which the coaches believe is extremely valuable.
"I think you change the environment up," said offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, another joint practice veteran from his long tenure as the Dallas Cowboys' head coach. "You go against other people, you hit other people, you see different systems. It's a naturally more competitive environment for everybody. It's naturally a little bit more uncomfortable. You don't know how the other guys are, what the systems are, what the schemes are, so everybody has to respond to that and that's a great opportunity to grow. I think it will be a good week for us in Cleveland and next week up in New England, it'll be fun for us. I think we'll grow as a team as a result."
"It just gives you different looks," wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. "You get tired of seeing the same guys every day and it helps you with having to mix things up. But just to get a different look and different guys skillsets around the league is going to help you get better ultimately, too."
Shepard looks forward to seeing his former teammate and still friend Odell Beckham, Jr., the Giants former Pro Bowl wide receiver who was traded to Cleveland in March 2019. The two receivers and Saquon Barkley worked out together in the offseason in Arizona. Shepard said he speaks to Beckham every week.
"He's just excited to see us and see his boys," Shepard said. "That's pretty much all we've been talking about."
Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry will have an opportunity to hone his craft against Beckham, who missed the final nine games of the 2020 season after tearing his ACL.
"I'm looking forward to facing the entire Browns team," Bradberry said. "You got some good receivers other than Odell: Jarvis Landry, (Rashard) Higgins, Donovan Peoples (Jones), so they got some good receivers all across the board that I'm ready to go against."
The coaches and players aren't the only members of the Giants organization who will benefit from the practice get-togethers. Every NFL team must remove 32 players from its roster before the regular season. General manager Dave Gettleman said the Giants will "absolutely" scout the players on one team that won a playoff game in 2020 (Cleveland) and another that traditionally excels at that time of year.
"I'll be there," Gettleman said. "(Co-director of player personnel) Mark Koncz, (co-director of player personnel) Tim McDonnell will be there. (Director of college scouting) Chris Pettit is going to be there. So, we'll all have our guys to look at. Absolutely, it's a scouting process. Obviously, at night, we'll go back and watch the film. That's one of the nice things because you can get up on top of guys, see their body style, their builds, what they look like it. It's a great opportunity to scout players up close and personal."
Seems like a victory for everyone.
View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands.