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Daniel Jones feels stronger than ever before

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – In his memorable rookie season as the Giants' starting quarterback, Daniel Jones posted some numbers that were impressive (3,027 passing yards and 24 touchdown passes) and not so much (23 turnovers and a 3-9 record).

As he prepares for his second NFL season, it would be perfectly reasonable if Jones spent at least part of each day plotting how he can improve on all of those statistics.

But that is too big a picture for him to study right now. As the Giants continue the strength and conditioning portion of their training camp, Jones has a much narrower concentration.

"I think my focus is on this camp and trying to make sure I am as prepared as possible mentally," Jones said on a Zoom call when asked his goals for the coming season. "We have talked about a new system and a new offense to learn and pick up. I think my focus right now is what we're doing day to day here and trying to make sure we take the right steps forward and improving every single day. For me personally, I am doing a good job of picking up the offense and understanding what the coaches expect. Obviously, want to improve on a lot of things from last year personally and as a team. In order to get there and to get there the right way, I think we want to focus on what we're doing day to day in this camp."

View photos of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones

Jones has the benefit of experience this year when he discusses his short or long-term expectations. Last summer, he was a first-round draft choice trying to get accustomed to new surroundings, learning about being a professional and the NFL and finding a comfort zone as Eli Manning's backup and heir apparent. Now, he is secure as the Giants' starting quarterback.

"The biggest thing is not being a rookie and having relationships with people in the building and my teammates," Jones said. "Obviously, we have a new staff and I'm certainly learning and going through that process like I did last year. There is a certain level of comfort in it being my second year and it's been good."

Despite that familiarity, much is new for Jones, including head coach Joe Judge, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and the scheme he has brought to the team.

"With Coach Garrett, I have enjoyed learning from him so far," Jones said. "He is extremely detailed in his thinking and what he expects on the field, and I think that is probably what has stood out the most. I look forward to working with him and continuing to learn this system."

Also new to a degree is Jones' body. He weights "229, 228" after playing as a rookie at 220.

"I feel good," he said. "I feel like I'm as strong as I've been. I feel like I'm in good shape. I was in Charlotte (his hometown) for most of the offseason and training there. I wanted to get stronger and wanted to gain some weight for what that does for every part of my game, standing in the pocket, running when I need to, and obviously throwing the ball as efficiently as I can using my strength, my lower body. Each piece of that was part of the goal of the offseason in my training."

And that big picture has also been dramatically altered both on and off the field. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all NFL teams to adopt strict rules for physical distancing during meetings and meals, wearing masks and eschewing full-padded practices until Aug. 17. The Giants moved their camp operation from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center to MetLife Stadium.

"It has definitely been different," Jones said, "but I think our organization, the Giants, the medical staff, the operations people have done an unbelievable job of setting up the facility here at the stadium and making sure it is clear what they expect from us, wearing a mask and socially distancing and doing all those things. It's different, but it's not hard and it's not getting in the way of us doing our work. As long as we're conscientious about it, I think we haven't had any problems with the policies and the procedures.

"Just being here, just being in the stadium is different, but like I said, our organization has done a great job of setting it up and we're lucky to have this space and do as much as we can do over here with all the space we have."

The most significant change in the schedule was the cancellation of the preseason. The Giants will line up against a foe in a different uniform for the first time when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, Sept. 14.

"We're all operating under the same rules, the same outline as far as practice and into the season," Jones said. "All we can do is prepare as well as we can in the time we have and make sure we're getting the most out of every single day and those practices leading up to the first game. I think that's our approach as a team and we'll make sure we do that and prepare as well as possible."

That's a good place to keep his focus right now.

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