The worst part about Daniel Jones’ hamstring injury wasn’t that it knocked him out for a long time. He figures to be back on the practice field on Wednesday at close to full speed and has a great chance at playing against the Cardinals on Sunday.
And it wasn’t that the Giants couldn’t win a big game without him at quarterback, either. Colt McCoy (and more to the point, the running game and the defense) dispelled that idea in Seattle a few days ago.
No, the biggest issue with Jones being sidelined was the timing. It came right smack in the middle of the best stretch of football he’d played all season and the most successful span of his two-year career. He’d gone two-and-a-half games without a turnover, had won three straight, and seemed to have turned the corner in his development that the Giants had been waiting for all year.
Now they have to hope this interruption in his practicing and playing time does not change that trajectory. Because the only thing more debilitating to the Giants’ chances of maintaining their grip on a piece of first place in the NFC East than a setback in Jones’ physical condition this week would be a setback in his level of quarterbacking.
It may not be as much of a concern for the coaching staff as it is just something they will be keeping an eye on.
"The best way to grow as a player is to have experience playing in games," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said last week. "I think [Jones] has really grown throughout the season. You said it, I think he’s playing at a very high level. He’s made a number of plays for us. He’s minimized the bad plays. The best way to continue to do that is you stay out on the field and you keep growing from the experiences that you have."
Jones was unable to do that last week.
"Hopefully, we’ll get him back out there soon," Garrett said. "He can continue his progression."
Quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski also spoke about the brief hiatus from on-field work for the second-year player, especially after he’s made such leaps in recent weeks.
"To me, he looks comfortable playing the position," Schuplinski said of the preinjured Jones. "When you watch tape or you watch the game live, even if you watch practice, there is eventually a point where you say ‘Man, he looks comfortable. He’s got it. It’s clicking for him.’ Whatever it might be . . . Hopefully he gets healthy here and can continue to do that moving forward."
One thing that should help continue the ascending momentum is that Jones didn’t disappear completely. He was not on the field, but he was a big part of the team’s meetings and discussions and played a large role in getting McCoy ready to face the Seahawks.
So much so that McCoy gave Jones a special nod in his postgame comments.
"He doesn’t miss a beat in meetings," McCoy said. "From the things he helped me with on the sidelines to during the week, we have a great relationship . . . As a quarterback, when you’re not playing a lot, you feel that [pressure] and you prepare for that and D.J. just helped me calm down, see it all week long."
Now Jones should be back to seeing it himself.
"Daniel Jones is a phenomenal guy, he is a great quarterback, he’s the leader of this football team," McCoy said. "The Giants are lucky to have him, one hundred percent."
If they get back the version of him that was playing right before he was injured, they’ll be even luckier.
Notes & quotes: Rookie LB Niko Lalos was signed to the active roster after two games as a Sunday call-up from the practice squad. Lalos, undrafted from Dartmouth, has two takeaways in the two games in which he has played ... LB Trent Harris was waived to make room for Lalos ... The Giants signed veteran and versatile QB Joe Webb to their practice squad.