Daniel Jones might want to play with extra caution in the Giants' first post-Thanksgiving Day game next year.
For the second time in his two seasons, the Giants' quarterback was injured in the game immediately after Turkey Day. Last year against Green Bay, he suffered a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for two games – and enabled Eli Manning to enjoy one last triumphant moment.
On Sunday – 72 hours after the holiday – Jones injured his right hamstring in the Giants' third consecutive victory, a 19-17 triumph against the Bengals in Cincinnati. With his status for next week's game against Seattle uncertain, Jones latest issue might open the door for Colt McCoy to temporarily join the starting lineup.
Asked after the game if he is confident this won't be a long-term injury, Jones said, "it's tough to say. I think we'll go back and look at it, examine it and go on from there, so that's my focus now and I'll certainly look to do that as soon as we get back."
Did the doctors and athletic trainers indicate he will be able to play next week in Seattle?
"No, you take it day by day and get back and look at it, examine it and work to improve it every day," he said.
Because the in-depth examination of Jones' leg had yet to begin, coach Joe Judge also had no definitive answers regarding his quarterback's status when he spoke to reporters via Zoom after the game.
"I don't really know much," Judge said. "I actually talked to him on the sidelines in terms of how he was. It was at a point where he couldn't continue in the game, which takes a hell of a lot. Daniel is a really tough dude. So, we'll take a look and see what it is. I don't have much more information than what you guys probably got from the T.V. at the point right now. He just has the doctors and get some MRI's - things like that are standard procedure. We kind of MRI everything around here."
Jones was injured on a seven-yard run with about 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. He participated in two more plays, including a two-yard pass to Wayne Gallman that he threw without moving his legs, before going to the ground in pain. After he was examined on the field by the Giants' medical staff, Jones left the field and was replaced by McCoy, the 11-year veteran and first-season Giant, who made his first appearance of the season with 9:39 remaining in the quarter.
Jones returned for the start of the Giants' next offensive series. But he lasted just two plays and left the game for good after grabbing his hamstring on a pass to Evan Engram that was incomplete.
"Just felt it on that play and didn't feel like I could get a lot on it really or do what I needed to do to be effective and move the ball and throw it accurately," Jones said. "Just look to rehab it, do whatever I can to heal it up as fast as I can."
Jones concluded his day with 16 completions in 27 attempts for 213 yards and neither a touchdown pass nor an interception.
McCoy, the 11-year veteran and first-season Giant, completed six of 10 passes for 31 yards with a long completion of 15 yards in his first appearance of the season. He also rushed for seven yards on five carries.
McCoy had last played on Oct. 6, 2019, when he started for Washington against New England. In his only action of the 2019 season, McCoy completed 18 of 27 passes for 122 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. This was McCoy's 41st career game. If he takes the first snap against the Seahawks it will be his 29th start.
"You never want to see D.J. go down like that, but we always have to be prepared and be ready," McCoy said. "It felt good to get out there, call some plays and execute. There's a few I'd really like to have back, but always thankful to get a win. I thought the defense played outstanding today, kept us in it. This is a tough league, so when you can get three in a row that's big for our confidence and for our team."
And they had faith in him.
"I think he came in and managed the game well," Judge said. "I think he made some big time throws in some tough situations. He ran the ball tough."
"I thought he did a great job coming in and executing and moving the ball down the field and scoring some points there," Jones said. "That was big time and obviously I've learned a ton from Colt, he's played a lot of football, been in this league for a long time and I think you were able to see that when he gets out on the field and executes, and how well he did it. Good to see the team get a win down the stretch and I thought Colt did really well."
Although he doesn't get first-team reps in practice, McCoy knows he must produce when he's needed on game day.
"I'm always going to be ready to play, but I hate it for D.J.," he said. "He was playing really well, just like he has been the last several weeks. I just didn't want to let our team down. I was going to be prepared and you never know when these situations pop up. I work hard in practice and I know my teammates have confidence in me, and I just tried to go out there and secure the win for us."
Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman added McCoy for these situations. In addition to being a capable quarterback, McCoy is a mentor to Jones and a helpful practice player.
"We talk about Colt not having a lot of snaps," Judge said. "I'll be honest with you, we benefit a lot defensively from having Colt run the offense against us on a weekly basis. I think he benefits from seeing a lot of competition in practice. But nobody gives our defense bigger headaches than Colt. Finally, a period on Friday of him going through the red area is always as tough as it gets because he's out there to win. He's out there to compete. He does a lot of things. He's a veteran. He has a lot of experience to draw from, but at the same time, he keeps himself as prepared as can be. He's mentally always into it. Physically, he's ready. I thought he got in the game today and he helped us win."
Time will tell if McCoy will be called upon to do that again next week.