EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones feels the weight of expectations but insists he's not burdened by them.
The Giants' third-year quarterback doesn't dispute the widely held narrative that his performance in 2021 will be pivotal for the team's fortunes. And he embraces the challenge to be at his very best for the team this season.
"I think at this level and in this job, we're all expected to perform and play at a high level every day, and that starts today," Jones said after the Giants' conditioning drill on the first day the full squad was together for training camp. "I certainly feel that. I think everyone on the team does and I think that's healthy, I think that's the way it should be, and I know we're excited for the opportunity."
Jones has one advantage he didn't previously enjoy in a Giants uniform. For the first time as a pro, he has the same coordinator and play caller (Jason Garrett) and is in the same offense for a second consecutive season.
"I think it's valuable," Jones said. "I think it's valuable for all of us. I think it's the second year in the system under coach Garrett and (head) coach (Joe) Judge. A lot of us are back and have developed chemistry and know how to communicate with one another."
But that familiarity will not change his approach to training camp. He compared this opening day to his previous two.
"(It's) kind of the same theme, to start over and take it day by day, to start with step one and make sure we're going about it the right way," Jones said. "We've got several new guys and had some time to get to know them during the spring and in the summer and we'll continue to go from there, but definitely helps to be back with coach Garrett, coach Judge and a lot of the same guys.
"Obviously, a lot of guys are back and there are certainly things that we're looking to improve, but at the same time we're making sure not to overlook anything or assume anything when we're starting day one here. It's a new year, so we're starting at step one and basic information and basic installs and going from there. That's a process and we're sticking to that."
*Jones has more weapons at this disposal, as free agent wide receiver Kenny Golladay, tight end Kyle Rudolph (currently on the physically unable to perform/active list) and first rounder Kadarius Toney join Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Evan Engram.
"Just drawing more attention," Shepard said of the newcomers' impact. "The more guys that we have helping make plays and making big things happen, the defense is going to have to pay attention to them. It frees guys up and hopefully we can do the same for them, draw some attention and free those guys up. Playmakers are what we need and that's what I think we've addressed over the offseason."
Shepard is the entering his sixth season with the Giants, making him the longest-tenured member of the team. In his first three seasons, he played primarily in the slot. Two years ago, he migrated outside when Golden Tate joined the team. Tate was not re-signed, so that leaves Shepard…where?
"I think I'll be bouncing around a lot of different positions, kind of like I did at the end of the season last year," Shepard said. "I love the slot. It's where I'm super comfortable. I just like the space you have to be able to go all the way across the field, come back out, do the short intermediate routes to try and run in. But also, I can go outside as well. There are some things that I love to do outside, as well. I'm looking forward to just bouncing around and being wherever the coaches see me fitting best."
*Safety Logan Ryan played in all 16 games last season for the Giants, but this is his first training camp with the team. He signed last Sept. 4. But Ryan said the four years he spent in New England when Joe Judge was a Patriots assistant helped prepare him for this camp.
"I played for a couple teams Joe Judge coached at before," Ryan said. "They weren't his camp – I'm sure they may be similar, they may not – but Joe Judge is tough on the fundamentals. A lot of conditioning. That's how I made a career for myself, being fundamentally sound and being in shape for nine, ten years now."
*Linebacker Reggie Ragland has been placed on the reserve/non-football injury list. He joins another free agent linebacker, Ryan Anderson (back), and running back Sandro Platzgummer (hamstring) on the NFI list. A player is placed on the list after sustaining an injury away from the team. They can return to practice when they are medically cleared.
View photos of the team reporting for the start of training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.