EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When he spoke to reporters on a Zoom call this morning, Joe Judge said, "In a perfect world, I'd like to have a decision today if possible" regarding the status of quarterback Daniel Jones for the Giants' home game Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns.
But the world is not perfect and if Judge knows whether Jones will play, he isn't ready to reveal it. The second-year quarterback is listed today as questionable on the team's final injury report of the week. Jones has injuries to his right hamstring and left ankle. The former prevented him from playing two weeks ago in Seattle and he sustained the latter injury last week against Arizona.
If Jones can't play, Colt McCoy will start. McCoy played the entire game in the Giants' victory against the Seahawks.
Asked when he would like to know if he's starting, McCoy said, "Obviously to know sooner than later, that would be great. But it depends on how D.J. feels. I thought he looked good today, but we'll see how it goes."
Jones was again limited in practice today. The Giants returned to the field after canceling their workout yesterday out of an abundance of caution following offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's positive test for COVID-19.
Before the practice, Judge said, "I'm leaning towards possibly making a decision today if that's possible." But the Giants will be on the field tomorrow, so Judge might wait an extra day before making a decision about the starting quarterback.
Jones did not speak publicly today.
Judge again pledged his faith in McCoy, the 11-year veteran who completed 13 of 22 passes for 105 yards, one touchdown and one interception in Seattle.
"I think he did a lot of things well," Judge said. "First off, I love the way he just controlled the flow of the game, the tempo of the game. Colt was on the line of scrimmage, identifying what the defense was in, putting us in the right place, made some big plays for us down the stretch with some key completions to continue drives. He did a good job when he had to go ahead and check from a run to a pass or vice versa. I thought just his experience really showed up in that game."
"The game plan kind of evolved in the Seattle game," McCoy said. "I didn't really know where it was going to go. Then it ended up being a lot of big personnel, so that's just kind of how the game evolved (the Giants rushed for 190 yards). Obviously, we like to take shots, we like to push the ball down the field. But I think in that game, it just didn't present itself. We were doing a lot of things on the ball and with big people. That's what was kind of working."
If McCoy starts it will be the 30th of his career. The victory against the Seahawks improved his record to 8-21.
"The biggest thing he's very good at is Colt's a very positive guy," Judge said. "He's a competitor and he's a very positive guy. He understands the flow of we're always getting ready for a 60-minute game. If things aren't going well initially, you're never going to hear him complain or tap out. He's very committed to the process. Any adjustments you have to make, Colt's a smart dude. He's always in tune to talking on the sideline about, 'Hey, what do you guys think about maybe changing this up?' or 'Do you want to stick with this?' He may come back and say, 'Hey, I like this play, call it again.' Colt's very, very mentally into the game. That carries over and really gets the rest of the guys involved as well."
Sometime before Sunday's 8:20 p.m. kickoff, we'll learn if McCoy will be physically into the game against Cleveland.
*In a week when their quarterback is rehabbing two injuries, their offensive coordinator can't attend Sunday's game and they missed a day of practice, the Giants didn't need another major disruption – but they got one anyway.
James Bradberry, the team's best cornerback, was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday because he was deemed to be a high-risk close contact of an individual who has tested positive. He will not be in MetLife Stadium when the Giants host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
"It's unfortunate," coach Joe Judge said today. "Obviously, we want all of our players at the game. We definitely don't want anybody sick or hurt or injured on our team or on any other team, to be honest with you. But look, it's our job to prepare the players. It's every player's job to be prepared to play when their number is called on. Look, we have guys on the team who have past history at cornerback. Versatility is definitely a cornerstone in how we build our team, especially our defense. That's no different. We work a lot of guys at different positions when we start the weeks of practice. Sometimes that doesn't always show up in games, but we're always thinking ahead and thinking of the 'what if' scenarios.
"The last thing we always talk about as a staff on Saturday in our staff meeting is everyone go to bed tonight and wake up and make sure we have a solid plan in place that if you wake up tomorrow and we get some bad COVID news that we have a progression of who's going to do what and how we're going to continue the game plan or adjust the game plan. This is something we've talked about on a regular basis. This is no different."
Judge did not reveal how the Giants will compensate for Bradberry's absence. The Giants are thin at corner. Right corner Isaac Yiadom, who has played every defensive snap the last six games, is healthy. But rookie Darnay Holmes, the slot corner, will miss his second straight game with a knee injury. Madre Harper (knee) is on injured reserve. Brandon Williams was waived this week.
The Giants have other candidates. Eight-year veteran Logan Ryan spent his entire career at cornerback before starting the last eight games at free safety. Julian Love was a cornerback at Notre Dame before converting to safety as a rookie last year. The Giants also have undrafted rookie Jarren Williams, who made his NFL debut on special teams last week.
"It helps to have flexibility and have versatility on the back end," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. "That's definitely a bonus."
Bradberry is tied for the NFL lead with 17 passes defensed and he tops the Giants with three interceptions. This will be just the fifth game Bradberry has missed in his five-year career. As a rookie with Carolina in 2016, he was inactive for three games with a foot injury. He was also inactive with a groin injury when the Panthers played in Green Bay on Nov. 10, 2019.
"The thing about this game and you get used to over the years, you lose guys, whether it's injuries or other things," Graham said. "It's definitely going to be tough, James will be missed. He's in meeting in terms of over Zoom. Staying active and staying involved. It's going to be tough, but we have to adjust. I know that Cleveland doesn't care. They can care less. We have to get ready to go. That's on us to figure it out. I know this, the players will rally behind the it. I know James will be pushing for us and cheering us on. It's a unique challenge, not unique, let me stop, it's not really unique. It's challenge and we're ready to go face it."
*Tight end Evan Engram (calf) was added to the injury report as questionable and was limited in practice. Kaden Smith, another tight end, has a knee injury and was limited in practice and is questionable. Guard Kevin Zeitler was limited with a shoulder injury.