EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When an injury creates uncertainty about a player's availability for his team's next game, he is often asked during the practice week if he could play that day.
Daniel Jones, undergoing treatment for the right hamstring injury he suffered three days ago in Cincinnati, was asked on a post-practice Zoom if he could have played if the Giants were playing the Seattle Seahawks today instead of Sunday.
"I'm not sure," Jones said. "I think, luckily, there's not a game today and to think of a hypothetical here, I'm sure we all use the week to prepare our bodies to play on Sundays. That's part of the schedule and the way it works for all of us, so I'm not sure. My goal is to continue to improve throughout the week.
"I certainly want to play and I want to be out there and doing everything I can to get out there. Where that puts me or how I recover depends on what I do day to day and that's what my focus is, on what I'm doing and focusing on healing up."
Jones was the only player on the Giants' roster who did not practice today but he was in meetings and is as immersed as ever in the game plan.
"(I am) preparing the way I always do to play and making sure that while I'm not in practice today," Jones said. "Still getting those reps and making sure I understand what exactly we're doing and prepare myself to play. That's certainly my approach this week as it would be any."
If he doesn't improve enough to face the Seahawks, backup Colt McCoy will make his first start of the season. McCoy was asked what he needs to do to replace Jones, who started each of the first 11 games.
"I just need to go out there execute and be myself," said McCoy, an 11-year veteran. "Daniel has played at a really high level the last three weeks (in Giants victories). I think that's why it's so frustrating for him. You could see the growth that he's made. He's playing at a really high level."
When he spoke to the media before practice, coach Joe Judge indicated the next two days will be more crucial in determining if Jones can play Sunday.
"We're waiting to hear a lot of feedback from the trainers," Judge said. "He came in today, deep in the playbook and ready to work. We'll see some stuff with the trainers today. Today is going to be kind of a practice work hybrid structure. Some early practice, individual and group periods. Then we're going to have kind of a team walkthrough on the backend today after some conditioning. We'll kind of see what he's able to do, and that will really help us plan out more tomorrow and Friday going forward."
When healthy, Jones takes virtually every practice rep with the starting offense. McCoy was not scheduled to get the same workload today.
"We'll actually vary that a little bit," Judge said. "Colt will take the majority of them. We'll have to see where Daniel is at physically and what he can do with the trainers. Until we have that answer, I can't give you an absolute answer right now. We'll kind of roll (practice squad quarterback Clayton) Thorson through as well and make sure he gets his share of reps and we'll have everyone prepared to play."
Jones was injured with about 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter of the Giants' 19-17 victory against the Bengals. After running for a seven-yard gain, he returned to the huddle in obvious pain. Jones participated in two more plays, including a two-yard, no-legs pass to Wayne Gallman, 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, who made his first appearance of the season. Jones returned for the start of the Giants' next offensive series. But he lasted just two plays and one pass and left the game for good after grabbing his hamstring on a pass to Evan Engram that was incomplete.
Jones has made figurative strides since Sunday. Whether he will be healthy enough to make literal steps this week in practice and against the Seahawks in newly-renamed Lumen Field is questionable.
"I'm feeling good and it's healing, recovering," Jones said. "Just trying to take it day by day, do what the trainers and doctors are telling me to do and follow their guidance on all that stuff. It's feeling better and certainly working hard to make sure it keeps going that way."
Jones offered little insight when asked what he is doing with the team's athletic trainers.
"Just working with them in the training room doing treatment and certain exercises just to try to help it heal," he said. Exactly what we did, I'm not sure we're going to talk about that, but it was good. It was feeling better and I'm working to progress it every day."
Jones missed two games last year when he suffered a high ankle sprain in a loss to Green Bay. That game, like the one in Cincinnati, occurred three days after Thanksgiving. After Eli Manning started the last two games of his career, Jones returned for season's final two weeks. He hopes to make a more rapid return from his current injury.
"I think my approach has always been to try to get back as soon as possible," Jones said. "You understand where your body is, what you can do and I think every injury is different. You've got to listen to your body, but at the end of the day, as soon as I can get back on the field and recover, I want to be out there. So, that's my goal."
It's safe to say Judge and the Giants share that same objective.
*While Jones was the only player to miss practice, four players were limited: wide receivers Sterling Shepard (toe/shoulder) and Darius Slayton (shoulder/foot), safety Nate Ebner (knee) and linebacker David Mayo (knee).
View photos of the career of veteran quarterback Colt McCoy.