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Giants’ QB outlook cloudy as Daniel Jones awaits surgery, undrafted rookie gets nod and rich 2024 draft looms

Giants’ QB outlook cloudy as Daniel Jones awaits surgery, undrafted rookie gets nod and rich 2024 draft looms

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Maybe Daniel Jones was side-stepping the questions.

Or maybe the New York Giants’ franchise quarterback truly didn’t have clarity on their answers.

Wednesday after Giants practice, Jones fielded a series of questions about the ACL he tore three days prior; his future with the franchise who gave him a $160 million contract last spring; and the prognostication for when and where he will return to football.

Jones shed little insight.

Because for the quarterback whom the Giants selected with the sixth overall pick in 2019, right now, so little is known.

Jones does not know when he’ll have surgery to repair his ACL, the procedure timeline hinging on when swelling in his knee goes down and range of motion returns.

Jones did not compellingly assert that the 2-7 Giants, who are on track for a high draft pick in a quarterback-loaded class headlined by Caleb Williams and Drake Maye, verbally committed to his long-term future. New York extended him in March but essentially structured an exit two seasons into the deal when they guaranteed $81 million of the $160 million counter price. After 2024, none of Jones’ salary is guaranteed.

Did head coach Brian Daboll tell Jones he has a future in New York once healthy?

“The conversations I’ve had with [Daboll] have been mostly just about this injury and healing up and staying upbeat, staying positive,” Jones said. “I’m going to do everything I can to help this team out and make sure we finish strong.”

And on that note of helping the Giants out — when might Jones again be able to help them from the field rather than the sideline?

The quarterback acknowledged that ACL recoveries are “somewhat of a long process” and require patience. So he’ll focus more on the order of the steps than their duration. Jones declined to confirm whether he’s expected to be ready for Week 1 of the 2024 season.

“I’m going to attack it every day and try to take all the steps I need to in the appropriate amount of time to be back as soon as I can while also understanding that it is a process and I need to be patient,” Jones said. “When that exactly is, I’m not sure yet.”

So for now, the Giants are rolling with an undrafted rookie.

How Giants landed on undrafted rookie QB starting

Wednesday, the Giants promoted veteran journeyman Matt Barkley from the practice squad to the active squad. The team signed quarterback Jacob Eason to the practice squad. And Daboll confirmed undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito will start Sunday in a divisional game at the Dallas Cowboys.

DeVito, who spent four seasons at Syracuse before starting in 2022 at Illinois, knows how wild this is. He’s played two games in relief this year. But NFL history doesn’t predict undrafted rookie quarterbacks are likely to start. DeVito addressed reporters Wednesday from his makeshift locker in the practice squad cluster in the center of the locker room, joking he’d “stick to my roots” rather than upgrade to a permanent locker along the wall. Had someone told DeVito before the season that he’d be named starter by November, he’d have thought: “Some bad things probably had to happen.”

DeVito’s first NFL action came Oct. 29 in a sputtering game between the Giants and New York Jets, after quarterback Tyrod Taylor sustained a rib cage injury. DeVito completed two of seven attempts for a net loss of 1 yard. He rushed four times for 12 yards and a touchdown.

Jones returned from a neck injury to start last Sunday, seemingly indicating the return of stability for New York behind center. But on the final play of the first quarter, Jones tried to cut, then felt his knee shift and buckle. He attempted to keep playing but his knee gave out on his next dropback before he could release a pass.

Daniel Jones' torn ACL blurs his Giants future. (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)

Daniel Jones’ torn ACL blurs his Giants future. (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) (Ian Maule via Getty Images)

DeVito was thrust into action and played three full possessions before halftime. The first was a three-and-out. The next two resulted in interceptions. DeVito and teammates found more rhythm in the third quarter, including on an 11-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that DeVito capped by rolling to his right and finding Wan’Dale Robinson in the back right corner of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.

In all, he completed 15 of 20 attempts for 175 yards and a passer rating of 78.1 against the Raiders, whose defense ranks 20th in defensive DVOA.

This week, DeVito will face the Cowboys, whose defense ranks fourth in DVOA.

How Tommy DeVito is preparing for Cowboys-Giants

Tuesdays tend to be NFL players’ day off each week.

DeVito spent Tuesday at the Giants facility in preparation for his debut pro start.

“Just watching film, picking their brains, them picking my brain on what I like, what I don’t like and what they see,” DeVito said. “Just getting on the same page because we haven’t necessarily had those meetings to build the game plan around me and the players that are on this team with me in it.”

DeVito said Wednesday was his first chance to throw to receivers like Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt and Parris Campbell with more intentionality and communication.

“When you’re in the game, it’s kind of just like, ‘Figure it out,’” DeVito said. “You don’t have any kind of rapport with them.”

By Sunday, after walkthroughs and practices, he may not have much but he’ll at least have more.

Jones continued to join meetings this week, guiding DeVito in film sessions on what to look for, what defenses are doing and how to run the plays that he has less experience running. DeVito will draw upon the 39 college games he played in, the 594 passes he attempted (he completed 63.1%) while throwing 43 touchdowns to 16 interceptions.

DeVito can feel emotions rising in Cedar Grove, N.J., the 4.5-square-mile town where he grew up and again lives while playing for the Giants. As he went out for pizza this week, town residents congratulated him.

But when DeVito takes the field against the Cowboys, he’ll aim to minimize emotion and dial into his next play, next read and next assignment. The benefit of first-team reps doesn’t assuage oddsmakers. BetMGM lists the Giants as 16.5-point underdogs on a week when no other spread exceeds 7.5 points. DeVito says he’ll fall back on a mantra from his Syracuse days.

“Rule No. 1: Don’t panic,” DeVito said. “Don’t ask for Rule No. 2 because if you ask what rule No. 2 is, you didn’t listen to Rule No. 1.”

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