With all the players reported, pressers in the books, and the full team about to hit the practice field for the first time, the New York Giants’ 2019 Training Camp is well and truly under way.
The depth chart at the most important position is pretty predictable with Eli Manning remaining the starting quarterback. Behind Manning, 6th overall pick Daniel Jones took many of the second-team reps. As always happens, the most reps go to the starters while the remaining reps are divvied up down the depth chart. Getting fewer reps after having spent the last three years as a starter at Duke is something of an adjustment.
“I think that’ll be a little bit of an adjustment for everyone,” Jones said. “But you know, I don’t think so. I think your reps are very meaningful, reps are very important, you’re still getting those reps and trying to make the most of them. I don’t think it’s a huge adjustment.”
On his expectations for camp
Every player comes in to training camp with a list of things they are expecting — expecting for the season and expecting from themselves. Whether that means making the roster, taking (or keeping) a starting job, or reaching new heights in their career, everybody starts the year with expectations. Jones’ expectations of himself for camp? Simply to get better.
“I think first and foremost, just to improve,” Jones said, when asked about his expectations. “As a player, helping this team to improve is where all our focuses are right now. Today, these next couple earlier days, it’s really to pick up where we left off before we left for the spring. I think just with that mindset, if everyone has that mindset, we’ll continue to make progress and we’ll be where we need to be in a couple weeks.”
He later added, saying, “You know, I think individually my focus is just to improve. Use these next couple days to pick up where I left off, to pick up where we left off. You know, every day improve, and what that looks like down the road, I’m not sure. My focus is on improving today and tomorrow and taking those steps.”
And Jones believes that he is taking those steps and improving.
“I think I’m a lot further along,” Jones said, when asked where he felt he was compared to when he was drafted. “I think back to rookie mini-camp, when I started, I think I’ve certainly made a lot of progress. You know, all the rookies have, and should have to this point. There’s still a lot to learn and a lot to do, I realize that.”
On learning from Eli
If Jones’ responses seem milquetoast, giving answers to questions without saying much, that might because he has been getting coaching from one of the best* in recent memory at playing this game with the New York media.
*Derek Jeter is still the unquestioned king.
“I’ve thought about that and, you know, it’s part of the position, part of the role here, and I’m certainly accepting of that and willing to take that on,” Jones said about playing a high-profile position in a massive media market. “I’ve had a couple conversations with Eli about it and he’s been helping with that. Obviously, as someone who has dealt with it very well for a long time, I have a lot to learn there.”
“A lot of it is the team, the offense,” Jones added. “But just how he [Manning] studies, how he prepares, it’s helpful to me just to be around and watch. Watching the meetings, how he prepares for the meetings, and you can learn a lot from that. Yeah, He’s been very helpful to me and I’m very appreciative for it.”
But aside from tips on dealing with the media, Jones is trying to learn from Eli, Alex Tanney, and Kyle Lauletta — and help the rest of the group as much as he can.
Jones said, “ I think since I’ve gotten here, as a room, as a position group, we’ve worked really well together, found a way to help each other and learn things. Me, in particular, being a younger guy. I think we’ve found found a way to kind-of improve as a group, improve as a unit, and that way help the offense improve. I think it’s a competition against the defense right now and just improving every day is where our focus is.”
On adjusting to life in the NFL
Every rookie experiences something of a culture shock when they first get in to the NFL. Their teammates are the elite of the college ranks, bigger, stronger, and faster than most of their teammates in school.
And of course, Jones is no different, saying, “Yeah, I mean, I think that is a big adjustment. You notice it even in OTAs and mini-camp, the speed of everyone. The speed of DBs, the speed of receivers, linebackers, pass rush, I think it all goes faster and that’s very true. I think it places a premium on being on time and delivering the ball accurately at quarterback. Those are things I have thought about, I have tried to work on. ... I think that is the biggest step and biggest adjustment in the program.”
Likewise, the schemes are more complex, requiring better more time studying as well as better timing and precise execution.
“I think from the offense, I think the scheme and just executing the offense is a big part of it.” Jones said. “Getting comfortable with what we’re seeing from the defense, getting comfortable with our concepts, our offense against certain looks, stuff like that. Just the routine of it, I think, changes to some extent as we start camp and have little bit longer days. But just the routine of learning it, drilling it, and reviewing it and repeating that process is, I think, helpful too.”
Jones knows he won’t do everything perfectly right away, that learning to be an NFL quarterback is going to be a process. Jones said, “I would say that right now, and probably for the foreseeable future, there will be ups and downs, good days and bad days, you make mistakes and you do things right. But I think whether it was a bad practice or whatever it was, it was helpful to me just to focus a little harder, put your head back down, and go to work. I think that’s something you learn early on at the quarterback position, if there’s something you didn’t know, something you didn’t think of quick enough, something you didn’t react to at the right time, and I think that just comes down to knowing and studying.
But ultimately, the goal is to make that adjustment, make progress and improve in the offense, and earn the respect of his teammates. “I think, first and foremost, it all starts on the practice field,” Jones said, when asked about what he has to do to get his teammate’s respect. “People take notice of how you play but maybe more importantly, how you prepare and how well you know your stuff. When you step in the huddle, can you call the play clearly. Can you get up to the line, make adjustments, make the right read. I think a lot of that, for a rookie, is the best way to earn respect. And then off-field, giving respect to the guys who have been here for a long time. That’s what I’m trying to do.”