EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Judge admits he's "not in a hurry to go ahead and just beat the hell out of" Daniel Jones, which is a sound policy for a head coach regarding his starting quarterback. At the same time, the Giants coach is not averse to the notion of his quarterback absorbing a little contact before the season begins.
Even players at the sport's most important position must become accustomed to getting hit each year. That usually occurs with the limited contact that occurs in preseason games. But this year, NFL teams are moving right from training camp practices to the regular season. If Jones is going to get hit, it must be within a practice structure.
A desire to see your quarterback get hit might seem counter-intuitive, but Judge believes it could be beneficial.
"We've talked about it," he said after practice. "With quarterbacks, you want to go ahead and be calculated with how you start banging them around. I don't think we're going to throw him into any royal rumbles or anything like that. But at some point, we'll pop his pads a little bit in a controlled environment. Maybe that's with a young guy who understands kind of hitting him a little bit. But I'm not in a hurry to go ahead and just beat the hell out of him. But at some point, we'll prepare his body for what he may take in the first game."
*Jones hasn't hit the ground, but the Giants have had a series of long and physical practices, including a scrimmage last Friday. What has Judge learned about Jones in those sessions?
"I think you knew the guy had a lot of toughness just from watching the tape last year," Judge said. "This guy took some shots and he got up. He made mistakes, you saw him improve. He comes to work every day, you know he's committed to the team. What you see from him in heated situations like that, to me, when I stand behind the huddle, is I like to see his poise. I like to see how they handle it when those bodies are collapsing at times in the pocket. I like to see how he reacts to when maybe a receiver doesn't get open right away or someone slips and falls, how he handles moving on to the next part of the progression. To me, it's a lot about hearing them in the huddle and how they communicate with their teammates. When things get going faster, are they panicking, or does their voice have a calmness to it that settles the other 10 guys who are around him?"
*About 30 minutes into this evening's practice, lighting bolts were visible from the fields, forcing the Giants to move inside the fieldhouse at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. A heavy downpour soon followed. A little more than an hour after their departure, the players, coaches and staff returned outdoors for the final 40 minutes of the workout, which ended in near darkness at 7:45.
"Look, it's sudden change," Judge said. "We had lightning. The only thing that's ever going to put us inside is lightning. We had to move in. We go right to it, the guys understand if there's ever a weather situation that we have to go inside, we just continue with practice and we move along. Sometimes it alters a little bit. We have to go from two spot drills to one spot drills, and we try to find a way to maybe lengthen the periods slightly, pick up the tempo so we can get everybody their reps. That's really the biggest hindrance right there. But the second it cleared out, we got outside as fast as we could."
*Tight end Evan Engram – who lost his helmet and had it tossed - and linebacker Lorenzo Carter briefly scuffled in the latter portion of practice, but no other players joined the fray, which pleased Judge.
"I think our players understand the emphasis and the importance of how we have to practice and how it carries over into games," Judge said. "We've talked at length in team meetings about why we're not fighting on the field. There are a number of reasons. But probably the most obvious and important is it's a penalty in a game. You throw a punch in the game, you're thrown out of the game. It's going to be a fine, it's going to be a penalty for the team and you don't get to play anymore. Those guys got into a little bit of a heated, grabbing scuffle today. The teammates got over there to break it up. Obviously, they're frustrated within competition. But you know what, they handled it the right way. They were hugging and kissing after practice. They put it behind them. Like brothers, they'll move on and tomorrow they'll be smiling and laughing with each other."
*Judge called the competition for the starting job at center between Spencer Pulley and Nick Gates as "scratch even."