EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants are set at quarterback for the 2021 season.
This Sunday, not so much.
On his daily Zoom call with reporters today, Joe Judge stated unambiguously that the Giants will make no change at the game's most important position for next season.
"Daniel Jones is our quarterback," the first-year coach said.
While that issue is resolved, less certain is whether Jones will be the quarterback when the Giants try to break a two-game losing streak and keep their NFC East title hopes alive Sunday in Baltimore.
Jones was again limited in practice today as he continues to rehab the hamstring and ankle injuries that kept him out of the Giants' loss three nights ago to the Cleveland Browns. He has missed two of the last three games after injuring his right hamstring on Nov. 29 in Cincinnati and his left ankle when he returned to the field on Dec. 13 vs. Arizona. Colt McCoy played in the victory in Seattle and against the Browns.
"We're going to throw him through practice today, tomorrow and see where he's at," Judge said. "Look, in a perfect world, I'd love to have an answer as soon as possible. I'm not going to go ahead and set a time mark on this. But we'll come out of Friday, Friday after practice, with some kind of an answer. But we're just going to throw him out there and let him practice, see how he does. We've gotten good feedback from him and the trainers, but again, we'll have to put him out there and see how he's moving around today."
In the portion of practice open to the media, Jones participated in the initial plays with the starting offense, an opportunity he ceded to McCoy last week. On his own Zoom call following practice, Jones offered variations of statements he made last week about listening to the trainers and coaches, doing whatever he can to prepare and his desire to return to the field.
"I'm doing everything I can to get back out there," Jones said. "Every week you want to play. I did all I could last week, and that's certainly my approach this week. I'm working as hard as I can. I really do want to be out there with the guys and go after a win on Sunday.
"I think I'm closer every day and feeling better every day. I'm just trying to heal up as fast as I can. I am feeling better and need to keep doing what I'm asked to do, doing what I'm supposed to do, working with the trainers and making sure I keep going in that direction."
When he played against Arizona 10 days ago, Jones had limited mobility and no rushing attempts for the first time in his career. If he plays Sunday, it will be with the expectation that he will have a more normal skillset.
"I'm further from that hamstring injury and I've continued to improve every day," Jones said. "I'm feeling better, feeling better this week. Like I said, my focus is to keep improving that way and to continue to progress through the program that the trainers and doctors have laid out for me."
Regarding the ankle injury, Jones said, "I'm still rehabbing and working through that also, and that's feeling much better, too. Just need to stay on it, stay on top of it and keep working with those guys."
As he works to play in the next game, Jones need not worry about his standing for next season, given Judge's unwavering support. In 2018, the Ravens settled on Lamar Jackson as their long-term quarterback. A first-round draft choice that year, Jackson was the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2019. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said he knew Jackson was his guy after the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner played his first couple of NFL games. Did Judge have a similar revelatory moment with Jones?
"To me, it's a string of moments," Judge said. "Watching Daniel work, watching the respect he has in the locker room, watching him improve throughout this season. I think he's demonstrated a level of toughness and leadership and knowledge on the field that gives us confidence to put him out there and build with Daniel. I'm not going to point to one moment, but I can talk about this entire season of this guy has definitely earned my respect. I kind of made it very hard on him from the beginning in a lot of ways and he hasn't blinked."
Nor did he when told that Judge had reiterated the support for Jones he has expressed all season.
"I've learned a ton from coach Judge and enjoyed working with him," Jones said. "My job is to earn it every day, and that's the approach that you have to take in this league. Come in every single day, earn your job, work hard, do what you're asked to do, improve as a player every day, and that's what I'm focused on. I'll continue to do that. My focus is on this week, making sure we are as well prepared we can be for Sunday against Baltimore."
*The Giants designated outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell for return to practice from injured reserve. Fackrell hurt his calf in Cincinnati and has missed the last three games. He played in each of the first 11 games, starting eight, and had 31 tackles (20 solo), 3.0 sacks and an interception he returned for a touchdown in Dallas. Fackrell is eligible to play Sunday in Baltimore.
*Four players in addition to Jones were limited in practice: tight end Evan Engram (calf), tackle Matt Peart (ankle), wide receiver Golden Tate (calf) and cornerback Darnay Holmes (knee).