EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Before the Giants took the practice field today they were still talking about the most memorable play from their workout yesterday.
Daniel Jones, continuing a training camp performance that has featured many excellent moments, threw a perfect completion deep down the left sideline to running back Paul Perkins, who only had to open up his hands to complete the play.
“It was like the perfect ball, on the sideline,” Perkins said. “It was an amazing throw.
“Honestly, I didn’t think he was going to throw it. But he put it out there, he had faith in me and I’m glad he had faith in me. We ran that route so many times, I just didn’t think he was going to throw it. But he’s definitely not afraid to make the throws. He can squeeze it in wherever. He has a big arm. He’s smart. He’s a good person and a good guy.”
Saquon Barkley was not the back on the receiving end of the highlight pass, but he was very impressed by the throw and the player who fired it.
“D.J., he’s a player,” Barkley said. “I know you guys saw that dime over there to Perk, who made an unbelievable catch. But you can see he’s getting a lot more comfortable, he’s understanding the offense a lot more. Him and Eli (Manning) are vibing really well, Eli’s being a great, I don’t want to say mentor, I know that’s what people try to make it seem, but just a teammate. Being a great teammate, helping him out, and all those quarterbacks, with Kyle (Lauletta), with (Alex) Tanney, and all of them, are doing a really good job. Like I said, I’m excited to see - I know we play soon with our preseason game (Thursday vs. the Jets), and I’m excited to see him in live action.”
Jones has arguably been the most scrutinized player in camp. Reporters covering the team chart his every throw and issue daily progress reports. It comes with the territory with being the sixth overall selection in the draft, and the attention is multiplied when that player is a quarterback.
Jones didn’t publicly speak today, but Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula held formal news conferences. The throw to Perkins seemed to serve as a barometer on Jones’ progress.
“It was outstanding,” Shurmur said. “He’s made excellent throws in every practice, and that was evidence to me that he has the arm to play in this league. We sort of knew that before we picked him. We’ve seen it throughout the training, and that was actually a very good throw.”
“He’s throwing the ball deep very well,” Shula said. “He has a better understanding of the routes we are running across the board. To hit a halfback like that down the field was pretty impressive for any quarterback, rookie or veteran.”
Jones has demonstrated regular accuracy on deep throws in camp. Shula was asked what enables Jones to be so proficient on such passes.
“(The) vision to make sure you are going to the right guy and timing, getting the ball there on time and then technique,” he said. “If you are doing all three of those things and you understand sometimes you have to put a little more touch on the ball. Obviously, the more touch you put on the ball, the more margin for error you have. Sometimes you can’t because you have somebody else coming over there to try to make a play. There are certain ways you throw deep balls to get the ball completed, and he’s got a much better feel for that. The other thing too is just trusting the guys. Sometimes he wants to be so perfect that he was trying to for lack of a better phrase catch it for those guys. Instead of saying hey they’re fast they can go get it, just air it out there and throw it.”
Eli Manning remains entrenched as the starting quarterback. But Shurmur has said since the spring that he wants Jones to be ready to play from day one. And the former Duke star is progressing toward that goal.
“He’s on-track to be ready when it’s his time to play,” Shurmur said. “He’s made progress each day. He does something good each day. Now there’s always mistakes each day that he then cleans up. The challenge is to not repeat a mistake. That’s why I’m not really down on once in a while a guy screwing something up, because now that’s something to talk about as you move forward.”
The coaches, of course, didn’t grade Jones’ performance yesterday on one play. But the young quarterback merited a favorable evaluation on a much broader scale.
“When we’re looking at practice, we are looking at accuracy, timing, decisions and then technique,” Shula said. “For the quarterback, it’s mostly footwork. He’s been really consistent with his decision making. Yesterday when he had some big plays, it always feels like a better day. Sometimes, as you guys know, in the game some of the best plays made by quarterbacks are decisions where you get your team out of trouble or you hit a hot or a blitz, maybe a short throw. That was a good day. Maybe other than one day where he had a couple of forced throws, he has been really consistent.”
That word arose again when Shula was asked where Jones has made his biggest strides since the spring practices.
“Probably consistency,” Shula said. “The corrections we ask him to make, he makes them really fast. Some of them are not necessarily corrections, but maybe doing things a little bit differently, more our style, he’s really good at that. Those have been the things he has kind of picked up where he left off at the end of OTA’s.”
With each day, Jones continues to move toward game-day readiness in his first NFL camp.