The Summer of Daniel Jones has come to an end. Pat Shurmur said the development of Daniel Jones has not.
The Giants and their destiny again are in the hands of Eli Manning, as they were at the start of the previous 14 seasons. He’ll be the starting quarterback in the Sept. 8 opener against Dallas and, the team has been saying, for as long as he plays well and the Giants can stay afloat.
Jones, in other words, might see some action in the regular season as a backup or perhaps even in some spot duty, but for the most part, he’ll become an invisible sixth overall pick.
Behind the scenes, though, he’ll still be making strides.
“He’s going to continue to improve and continue to keep growing and keep preparing,” Shurmur said after Thursday’s preseason finale in which Jones started and played nine snaps. “Once the season starts, he’s going to prepare like he’s going to be the starter and be prepared to go in there if we need him. I don’t think of any of [the players] as ‘on the side.’ If you are on the 53, and certainly if you are on the 46 [game-day active list] and you’re out there ready to roll, you’ve got to be ready to play.”
Jones has exceeded both the high expectations of the team and the decidedly lower expectations of the general public in his four preseason games. He was 29-for-34 passing for 416 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Now, though, the challenge is to continue getting better without as many reps in practices and even fewer in games.
“We have a plan to do that,” Shurmur insisted. “It’s just like any year. We have a plan to keep developing the backup as much as you can and get him ready to play . . . There will be plenty of stuff for us to do during practices behind the scenes. This isn’t the first time we’ve been through this.”
Shurmur said the plan will include Jones taking reps before and after practices — and during special-teams periods — to mimic the starting offense.
“On his own time, under our direction, we get him as ready as we can,” Shurmur said. “That’s just the way this works, and we’re confident that he’s put himself in position to go in and execute at a high level.”
For his part, Jones said he is looking forward to this “next phase” of the season, even if it will mean a diminished role for him in the week-to-week preparations of the team.
“I think there are a lot of ways to improve even if you are not getting as many reps,” Jones said, noting the importance of staying mentally engaged. “It’ll be different. It’ll be laid out differently how we’re preparing. I look forward to that. It’ll be another opportunity to kind of learn and prepare that way.”
Jones said he doesn’t know how it will all shake out.
“I certainly trust the plan,” he said despite admitting that he does not yet know it. “I’ve learned a whole lot so far from how we’re working, and I look forward to the next step.”
Notes & quotes: Shurmur said he expected to make most of the decisions on cutdowns on Saturday. The Giants have until 4 p.m. on Saturday to bring their active roster to 53 players . . . One roster move already is known: Wide receiver Golden Tate will go on the suspended list for four games. “In my mind, he’s going to be gone for a month,” Shurmur said . . . Shurmur did not have any updates on injured players, some of whom could have their situations impact roster decisions. Among those are tight end Scott Simonson (ankle), linebacker Keion Adams (knee), wide receiver Brittan Golden (calf), cornerback Ronald Zamort (ankle), wide receiver T.J. Jones (ankle) and linebacker Nate Stupar (concussion).