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Notebook: Tommy DeVito 'earned the right to play'


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Brian Daboll dispensed with any mystery about player availability and lineups and got directly to the point regarding the roles for quarterbacks Tommy DeVito and Tyrod Taylor in the Giants' home game Monday night against Green Bay.

"Tommy will start," Daboll said in his first public comments following the Giants' bye week. "Tyrod, obviously, we (designated for him to return) to see where he is by the end of the week. Hopefully he'll be ready to go. If he is, he'll be the backup and Tommy will be the starter."

Taylor returned to practice after spending the last four games on injured reserve because of the rib cage injury he suffered against the Jets on Oct. 29. Daniel Jones started the next week in Las Vegas but tore his ACL and was replaced by DeVito. The rookie started the last three games, a loss in Dallas and victories against Washington and New England.

Now DeVito will get his first prime time start when the 4-8 Giants host the 6-6 Packers in MetLife Stadium.

"I think Tommy's done a good job; he's improved in each of the games he's played," Daboll said. "I thought he played well the last two games, made good decisions, was accurate with the football and earned the right to play."

Asked if he believes DeVito gives the Giants the best chance to win, Daboll said, "every decision we make is for that reason."

Daboll revealed his decision to both quarterbacks yesterday, the team's first post-bye workday.

"I feel good," DeVito said. "The same process throughout it all, kind of the same mindset. I just had to know how it was going to go, but my mindset is going to stay the same either way."

Asked if he thought he earned the start, DeVito said, "Yes, sir. I think – at the end of the day, it's not my decision. My decision is to just go out and play football, so that's what I'm going to try to do every day."

Taylor would prefer to start the game, but he has no issue with Daboll's reasoning nor difficulty in seeing the big picture from different perspectives.

"Tommy has played, he's stepped in and played well within the opportunities given to him," Taylor said. "Obviously, injury and time off is always tough. I would just say my injury, it just had bad timing to it. We've won two games, the last two games. Try to keep some momentum going forward. Obviously, yes, I want to be out there playing. Like I've told you before, I believe in timing and God's timing and everything happens for a reason, so I'll continue to keep trusting the process and taking it one day with the journey that God has put in front of me."

Like DeVito, Taylor received the news yesterday and handled it like the 13-year professional he is.

"He's a pro," Daboll said. "Those conversations are never easy, regardless of who it is, but he's a pro who has been in this league a long time. Had a good conversation with him and it was about what you would expect. He's a true professional."

Daboll had a choice between experience and the hot hand who has inspired not only his teammates but the Giants' fanbase.

Taylor is 34 years old and has played in 88 regular-season games with 56 starts. He has thrown 1,637 passes for 11,373 yards and 62 touchdowns. This season, he has played in seven games with three starts and completed 57 of 87 passes for 579 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

DeVito, 25, joined the Giants in May as a rookie free agent. His NFL experience consists of five games, 105 passes, 697 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

In his two most recent games, DeVito completed 35 of 51 passes (68.6%) for 437 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer ratings were 137.7 against the Commanders and 103.9 vs. the Patriots. DeVito is the first undrafted rookie quarterback to record 100+ passer ratings in consecutive starts in the common draft era (since 1967).

And he has posted those numbers despite operating under duress. The Giants' 28 sacks allowed in November is the highest total in any four-game span in franchise history.

DeVito reacted to the news just as he did to those sacks, by plowing ahead and preparing for the next play.

"I wasn't surprised m, but at the same time I didn't know what was going to happen," he said. "I was told during the week, the bye week, that there was a decision that was going to be made and as soon as it was made that I would be made aware, and I was. I'm happy about it but at the same time, it's still a job. You still have to go out and perform and do everything. It's not like you're at the top now, which is completely far from it, but just going to go out and try to get better every day and try to earn the respect of my teammates and my coaches and try to do that every play."

Taylor was in significant pain when he was first injured but has steadily improved and believes he can perform on the field.

"I feel like I'm right back in the swing of things," Taylor said. "I don't know how you ramp up from a rib injury, but everything that I've done rehab wise has been positive. No setbacks along the last five weeks, five and a half, five and some change. Thankful for the progression, just God's healing throughout the process, but I feel good, feel back to my normal self."

But Taylor concedes he cannot simulate the high-speed collisions that occur in a game before he steps on the field. But he is experienced enough to know what to expect.

"Obviously, on the (practice) field quarterbacks, we don't get hit, so it's really no way to predict it up until that point," he said. "But I will say everything tested, I passed with flying colors."

Including his reaction to the disappointment of not starting. DeVito said he "100 percent" understands Taylor's feelings.

"That's like my brother now," DeVito said. "I mean, been with him for this long. If it would've gone the other way, which I'm sure it could've, I would've been right there supporting him the whole way like he is me. That's the relationship that we've built this far, and he's been in the league a long time. This is my first time being in the league, in a situation like this or however it was, but at the end of the day, no players make decisions. It's all up to the coaches, so just going to continue to support each other how we always do."

*Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, who missed the New England game with a hamstring injury, and tackle Evan Neal, whose ankle injury has sidelined him for five of the last six games, did not practice Tuesday.

*Tight end Darren Waller remains on injured reserve with a hamstring injury suffered vs. the Jets.

Asked if Waller has a chance to play Monday night, Daboll said, "Too early right now, but I would still probably lean more 'no' than 'yes.' But don't want to rule it out."

*Runing backs coach Jeff Nixon is reportedly the leading candidate to become the offensive coordinator at Syracuse University. Daboll was asked if he would give Nixon his blessing if offered the job.

"Yeah, absolutely," Daboll said. "I worked with Jeff back in 2011, got a lot of respect for him and his family. Something we've talked about. He hasn't made that decision yet but an opportunity to be a coordinator, whether it's in the pros or Division I-A, those are hard to come by, so we'll see what he decides with that but certainly, yeah."

Daboll said he would expect Nixon to finish the season with the Giants.


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