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Giants rookies Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence forming a bond in training camp

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws a pass

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws a pass while being pressured by defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Credit: Brad Penner

Dexter Lawrence and Daniel Jones do not talk much about their jobs when they get off work. Instead, they tend to focus on bigger matters in the lives of two young men born in 1997 and embarking on professional careers.

“Obviously, when we aren’t here, that’s our time to debrief and talk about life and things like that,” Lawrence said Tuesday.

These are heady times for the roommates and fast friends, who are about to reach a joint milestone when on Thursday they take the field as the Giants’ first-round draft picks for the preseason opener against the Jets.

Jones, a quarterback out of Duke, was the sixth overall pick. Lawrence, a defensive lineman out of Clemson, was the 17th. Both are expected to become pillars on their respective sides of the ball, eventually. But Lawrence took it upon himself to help his fellow ACC alumnus through the process in camp.

Lawrence knew that Jones had been “getting it hard” from some fans who questioned the Giants' decision to draft him, and he wanted to “just to be there for him.”

As someone who said he does not listen to outside noise, Lawrence said he wanted to help Jones “keep his mind straight.”

“It was in the rookie minicamp meeting and they were asking about roommates. I said, ‘I want to be roommates with Daniel,’ ” Lawrence said after practice.

“I liked his personality. He’s humble and he’s hungry. You can tell. He will never tell me he had a good day, even when I think he had a good day. That non-satisfaction will just keep him getting better each day.”

Asked whether he has that attitude as well, Lawrence said, “Definitely.”

That likely will matter more for the Giants in the short term than anything Jones does. While the quarterback will start the season behind Eli Manning on the depth chart, Lawrence figures to be in the lineup from Day One.

The versatile 6-4, 342-pounder looks the part. And he said that more and more he is feeling it, too.

“I didn’t play football since, like, early December, so it was a little rough,” he said. “The first couple of days, it was a little slow, but now I’m feeling myself.”

The reason Lawrence has not been in a game since early December is that he sat out the College Football Playoff because of a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug.

“It was just unfortunate to have to go through something like that,” he said, “but what is also exciting is the first regular-season game is in Dallas, and that’s the first game I missed [the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame].”

First things first. Lawrence said he is looking forward to Thursday, in part because it will be the first NFL game of any kind that he has attended, and he’s playing in it.

“It’s honestly just a moment I dreamed of my whole life, so I’m just excited,” he said. “I’m getting tired of practice right now. I’m ready to go play a game and just prove myself each and every day.”

Jones also will get plenty of playing time against the Jets.

“When I played him in college, he was really good,” Lawrence said. “In the first half, he was killing us on the field, up and down the field, but they just couldn’t score.”

Jones was 24-for-43 for 158 yards against Clemson last November in a 35-6 loss. Did Lawrence get in any shots on him that day?

“Oh, yeah, multiple shots; he’s still feeling them,” Lawrence said, laughing.

Does Jones remember them?

“Oh yeah, he remembers,” Lawrence said.

He hopes their talks have helped both players prepare for this moment.

What kind of roommate is Jones?

“Kind of quiet,” Lawrence said. “I’m bringing it out a little bit, his personality. ‘Swag’ I guess is what they used to call him. I’m bringing that out.”

What has been their best nightly chat? Lawrence gave away no secrets to inquiring reporters.

“It’s just life,” he said, smiling. “You can’t know about all that.”


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