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Shurmur: Giants have a 'healthy quarterback room'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Pat Shurmur said today the Giants have a "healthy quarterback room." Daniel Jones said, "I think we've got a great room." Last week, Eli Manning said there is "no awkwardness in our room."

Which is to say those inside the room are communicating and working together just as the Giants expected they would, whether they are in that small windowless area, on the practice field or in the locker room.

Though few people actually get to see the room, what happens there has been a much-discussed topic of conversation since Jones reported for work earlier this month. In April, the Giants selected the quarterback from Duke sixth overall in the NFL Draft, a transaction that immediately made him Manning's heir apparent.

But the 16-year veteran still has a strong hold on the starting job, which led to questions about interactions between the two and how Manning would respond as a mentor. It was obvious both during and after the Giants' fourth organized team activity today that the two quarterbacks work well together and their relationship is … well, we'll let Jones describe it.

"I think it's been great," he said. "I think we've got a great room and a great group of guys in there. He's been very helpful for me and I've certainly learned a lot. I think we've got a great relationship throughout the room with Alex (Tanney) and Kyle (Lauletta) as well. I think we've got a great room, a lot of guys helping each other, so it's been good."

"There is a lot of conversation with regard to that," Shurmur said. "Yes, I see a good room and all the guys working well together and trying to help each other."

Manning didn't speak publicly today, but last week was asked about avoiding awkwardness in a situation that could be fraught with it.

"Don't create it," Manning said. "It is not there. Don't make something that is not there. It doesn't bother me. It is not about being nervous or worried. I am treating it the same that it has been the last 15 years. Whoever is in the quarterback room, talk football. If someone is confused about something or not sure about something, we have a great communication system and a relationship."

Manning helps Jones, as he has other young quarterbacks who've been in the room with him, through his words and actions. Most fundamentally, he is in his second year in Shurmur's offense and can help his new teammate learn its nuances.

"I think you can learn a lot from him on the field obviously, just from a scheme standpoint," Jones said. "Obviously, he has done it for a long time. He knows that stuff. To me, a lot of it is in his routine and his daily preparation and how he prepares for practice, how he reviews practice, and learns from practice. I think just that routine and just learning from that, being able to watch him every day to me has been the most helpful.

"(That routine), it's consistent, I think. He does the same thing. The way he'll prepare with the script, the way he'll go through all his assignments, the way he'll draw it out. After practice reviewing it, watching the film, and just learning from it. I think all that stuff but, just his routine is helpful."

More important than Jones' relationship with Manning is his development as a player. And through it's still extremely early in the process – that players don't even wear pads in OTA's – he is improving.

"I think he is competing and getting better every day," Shurmur said. "He is like every player on the team. They are getting ready to play week one. If they are in there, great. If not, they will keep working and continuing to get better. I think Daniel's approach, he is here all the time just like all the other quarterbacks. He is doing everything in his power to get right."

Asked if he has benchmarks for Jones, Shurmur said, "I think when he is in there, it needs to look like football. He needs to execute well, get completions, drive the ball down the field and make the proper run checks. All the things that are fundamental for a quarterback. Fine tune them and the details of each play. I see him getting better every day. I see a guy that is getting himself right."

Jones, whose modesty is a trait he shares with Manning, is not about to separate his shoulder patting himself on the back. But he is pleased with his first two-plus weeks of practice.

"That's the goal, to progress every day," he said. "I think I am, I've learned a lot and we are installing just about every day. The challenge is to progress every day and I think I have done that.

"We're certainly focused on every day here, making sure we're practicing at the highest level possible. That's the goal, and it's been good so far."

*Saquon Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage as a rookie last season and was second with 352 touches (261 rushing attempts and 91 receptions). Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott led the league by getting his hands on the ball 381 times (304 carries, 77 catches).

Barkley wouldn't mind reaching that total – or seemingly anything beyond it.

"I don't think any number is too high for me personally," Barkley said. "At the end of the day, I know I sound like a broken record, but you will hear this for as long as I am in the NFL, as long as I take care of my body, my body will take care of me. I will continue to have my team around me. Obviously, have a great strength staff here and a great training staff here. Have to be a pro outside the facility. Whether it is 350 touches, 400 touches or less touches next year. Whatever I have to do to have this team compete for a championship, I am going to do."

*Cornerback Corey Ballentine, the Giants' sixth-round draft choice this year, increased his workload today as he continues to recuperate from the gunshot wound to his glute he suffered last month.

"He is doing what he can do," Shurmur said. "Last week he did a little bit more of individual work, and today he got his first reps in team work. I will have to go back in and watch, but he looked good moving around. He is getting better each day."