EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Pat Shurmur didn’t want to disclose today who will play or start in the Giants’ preseason opener Thursday night, but he did make an exception regarding Daniel Jones.
“He’s a guy that will play,” Shurmur said. “I can tell you that for sure.”
Because Shurmur wouldn’t say if Eli Manning will play – “We’ll let that all reveal itself,” Shurmur said – it’s possible Jones might start against the Jets in the Giants’ home game. But even if he doesn’t, the quarterback selected sixth overall in the NFL Draft seems certain to play a big chunk of the game.
“It’s good,” Shurmur said. “The preseason games are very important, especially for the quarterback to be able to go out there. It’s the next real step in his process, so to speak. We’re looking forward to seeing him go out and execute.”
And Jones is eager to take what he’s learned in training camp practices and perform well in a game.
“I’m excited,” Jones said. “I think it’ll be a whole lot of fun to just run out there for the first time and kind of be part of the scene, be part of an NFL football game. So I’m excited, I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
Jones, Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta comprise the threesome currently listed behind Manning on the depth chart. But all the scrutiny will be on Jones, the former Duke star who is one day expected to ascend to the starting role.
And he’s ready for it.
“I think right now just focusing on the preparation of it and making sure that I’m as prepared as I can possibly be,” Jones said. “I think we’ve had a good last couple weeks of practice, but now the preparation kind of shifts more specifically to the Jets and just trying to prepare for that, so that when I do get out there Thursday night, I’m ready to go.
“I think as a unit, we’re ready for it. It’ll be different, it’ll be different looks, it’ll be maybe a little faster, but I think we’re in a good spot as a group, and I feel prepared for Thursday night.”
Jones’ goals in his NFL preseason debut are similar to what they will likely be in almost any game he plays.
“I think first and foremost it’s to score points, move the offense down the field and score points,” he said. “I think that’s always the goal but in that, it’s executing consistently, keeping the ball moving forward, not hurting ourselves, and executing what we have on offense. Doing that, taking care of the ball, I think all those things, but if we’re scoring points, if we’re moving the ball, I think we’ll feel good about what we did.”
Shurmur was asked what he is looking to see vs. the Jets.
“We want him to play good football and execute well,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s the important thing. Everybody that plays on Thursday is going to play a portion of the game. So, we want to see the guys that are playing make the best of the reps that they get.”
One of Jones’ biggest challenges will be facing a defense that is coordinated by Gregg Williams, who deploys numerous pressure packages. Jones could see at least one extra rusher each time he drops back to pass (though since the teams play in the regular season, neither will reveal much on Thursday).
“I think they play really hard,” Jones said. “Something you notice is how aggressive they are and how hard they play, but it’ll be different from what we’ve seen in practice in terms of just their base looks, their base coverages and pressures. All that will be different, so I’ve just been trying to familiarize myself with those different looks and how they attack an offense. I’ve been trying to do that these past couple days, trying to prepare as best I can.”
Shurmur knows Jones is going to face pressure at some point, and his debut is as good a time as any to learn to deal with it.
“He’s going to get pressured during the season,” Shurmur said. “We’ll react to whatever comes.”