ALLEN PARK, Mich – During his news conference on Aug. 4, Giants coach Brian Daboll responded to a question about the interior positions on the offensive line by saying, "I consider almost every spot open on our team."
When a reporter countered with "not left tackle," Daboll agreed, knowing it would be absurd to suggest second-team All-Pro Andrew Thomas will not start there.
Daniel Jones is another player with immutable job security. Ironically, in terms of earning a spot on the final roster, backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor is similarly safe. The difference is Thomas and Jones will play the huge majority of snaps at their position if they remain healthy, while Taylor's opportunities to contribute are predicated on Jones' health or the scoring differential in any particular game.
"Backup quarterback is definitely an interesting position," Taylor said this week. "Obviously, at the drop of a dime, you're called on to go out and lead the team and play at a high level. That is my focus each and every day, to come in and prepare like I'm a starter. That has been my mindset since Day One. Play like a starter, lead like a starter, obviously be myself.
"But also elevate the competition within the room. We understand where guys stand on the depth chart. At the same time, we are in a competitive environment that makes us all better. Each day, we come in and compete, whether that is through drills, meeting rooms, on the field. I think competition just raises the level of play in the locker room. That is our focus and that is our goal."
Taylor is qualified to speak on the uniqueness of being a quarterback as a current backup and former starter. Now in his 13th training camp, he has played in 81 regular-season games with 53 starts, including 43 for the Buffalo Bills from 2015-17. Since then, he has been the backup for Cleveland, the Chargers, Houston and now in his second season with the Giants. In the last five years, he has played in only 23 games, starting 10 (six of them with the Texans in 2021). Last season, he threw eight passes in three appearances.
Three years ago, Taylor won the Chargers' starting job in training camp and led them to victory in the opener against Cincinnati. But moments before their Week 2 game vs. Kansas City, Taylor suffered a punctured lung when he received an injection for a rib injury. It was a turning point for two quarterbacks as rookie Justin Herbert was quickly promoted from backup to starter and still holds the job, while Taylor has been primarily a reserve.
But Taylor has not let the fates diminish his love of football.
"I'm a firm believer in timing is everything," he said. "(You) can't focus on what you don't have in front of you. I think, for me, cherishing every opportunity I do get allows me to be in the right mental space day in and day out. I've never strayed away from the mindset of preparing as a starter every day and that was even after getting drafted as a sixth-round pick to Baltimore, knowing that (Joe) Flacco was the quarterback there. I still walked in with the mindset that I have to prepare and conduct myself like a starter. That mindset has remained with me."
Taylor today made one of the Giants' best plays in their second day of joint practices with the Detroit Lions. Evading several pass rushers, Taylor rolled to his right and fired a pass over a Detroit defender that wide receiver Jamison Crowder caught in stride for a touchdown.
As impressive as it was, the throw won't move the needle on Taylor's regular season playing time.
"As far as the frustrating aspect goes, I'm human," Taylor said. "But at the same time, I'm real with myself. I still push myself day in and day out and I expect high expectations from myself. That's the standard that I have. Obviously, we have a standard as a team, but that's the one I have for myself. I make sure when I lay my head down tonight, I check that box as far as the things that I did to be better that day."
Taylor resides in the middle of the Giants' strict quarterback hierarchy, behind Jones and ahead of rookie free agent Tommy DeVito. He is a sounding board and confidant for both, helping Jones sharpen his game and offer thoughts on the opposing defense and helping DeVito learn the offense and become a professional.
"He's an extremely hard-working guy," Jones said of Taylor. "He has a routine that he follows daily and sticks to it. He's extremely disciplined in how he takes care of his body, how he studies, how he watches film and then how he practices. Who he is every day is extremely consistent and disciplined. It's helpful to have a guy like that around, who has been in the league a long time and had a lot of success. He has a routine that works, so you can learn a lot from a guy like that."
"As far as the quarterback room, it's a fun one," Taylor said. "Me and DJ are kind of similar in personalities. Tommy, obviously a new guy to the room, great kid who competes with us and looking to learn. Doesn't say much, just speaks when he needs to. All around, I think we have good energy. We push one another in the classroom as well on the field. We love playing the game and enjoy one another. We push each other."
The quarterbacks have ongoing competitions among themselves, including throwing footballs into small squares on a large net and "dimes, which is the best ball we have (in any throwing drill)," Taylor said.
The camaraderie is a reason Taylor is enjoying training camp this far into his career.
"It's always a grind, but it's fun," Taylor said. "I wouldn't play the game if I didn't love it, if I didn't enjoy it. It's a demanding sport as far as body-wise and attention. Focus has to be at a high level each and every day. That's what I grew to love over the years. I started playing football at the age of five and have been fortunate to play a lot of games and have a lot of experience along the way. Just getting ready for the season. Being with the guys and grinding through all the camping, getting ready for the season is always something that I will enjoy as long as I have the opportunity to play this game."
He has the same attitude about the Giants' preseason opener Friday night against the Lions in Ford Field. Coach Brian Daboll hasn't revealed who will play and how much. But it seems highly probable Taylor will start and be relieved by DeVito.
"Anytime I get the chance to lace my shoes up and go out there and play the game that I grew up wanting to play, I'm excited for it," he said. "I hope the reps come. I'm definitely excited for it. Excited to go out there to compete for one another, but also showcase what I can do as well."
View photos from Detroit, where the Giants and Lions held joint practices ahead of their preseason opener.
*Daboll spoke prior to practice today, so he didn't comment publicly on this morning's workout. But he was pleased with the first day of the joint work with the Lions.
"Productive day," Daboll said. "Got a lot of good work and that's what practice is for. It was a lot of different looks, good competition. I thought it was a productive day.
"These practices are invaluable. The looks that you get, the different competitions and that's what coaching is. You had a lot of plays. I'd say a lot of plays to evaluate and then you look at them and fix what you need to fix and have another one. Again. this isn't a game right now, it's practice, albeit against another team but it's been productive."
*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard had a rest day and running back Saquon Barkley did not participate in 11-on-11 drills.
*Running back Gary Brightwell and offensive lineman Devery Hamilton did not practice after they were injured yesterday. "I just think it might not be a day-to-day thing, it might be maybe a week," Daboll said of their injuries. "Nothing long term."
*Tackle Evan Neal (concussion) and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (groin) remain sidelined.