Already facing the possibility of playing the Browns on Sunday with their backup quarterback, the Giants found out on Thursday they will go into the game with their backup play-caller.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday night, the team announced Thursday. There were no high-risk close contacts with Garrett that required any other coaches or players to be isolated and placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Thursday, but Garrett will not be available to attend the upcoming game.
Tight ends coach and former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens will handle the play-calling against his former team on Sunday and, presumably, for as long as Garrett is quarantined away from the team. Depending on his symptoms and testing, Garrett could be eligible to return for the Week 16 game against the Ravens.
Garrett participated in the team’s virtual meetings on Thursday, which took the place of the in-person activities and on-field practice that was scheduled. The Giants expect to be able to practice on Friday and there has been no adjustment to the game’s schedule.
"This is nothing new to us and it’s not unique," coach Joe Judge said of having to work around such interruptions and distractions in 2020. "Missing a day of practice is not something unique in the league this year. It’s something that as business is being done you just have to make sure you don’t lock your knees and keep on moving forward … We always put an emphasis on thriving in adversity. Something happens, we just keep moving on."
The "abundance of caution" that led the Giants to cancel practice on Thursday did create an abundance of uncertainty for the team’s already foggy quarterback situation.
Thursday was going to be a critical day in the evaluation of Daniel Jones as he recovers from his ankle and hamstring injuries that have put his availability for Sunday’s game in doubt. Without that time on the field to see how he is moving – especially the day after he was a limited participant in Wednesday’s workout – the Giants may push their final decision on their starting quarterback to at least Saturday.
"The evaluation obviously has been put off a day as far as him moving around," Judge said on Thursday.
Jones, like all other injured players, was able to be at the team’s facility on Thursday to receive treatment, and he did so.
Judge said he was "encouraged" by what Jones did on Wednesday at practice.
"That being said, we’ll have to see him at a faster tempo," Judge said. "[Friday] will be the day to evaluate that out there."
Judge also said losing the day of practice does not make it any less likely that Jones will be able to play on Sunday. Ideally, though, the Giants would have wanted their starting quarterback to take the bulk of the reps in Friday’s practice.
"Saturday will probably be the day that ultimately we want to have a decision and kind of go through that final walk-through with those guys on the grass [with the projected starting quarterback]," Judge said.
As for who will be calling the plays the as-yet-unknown quarterback will be running, Judge said the team has had contingency plans in place since the start of training camp to be able to replace anyone on the staff who might have to miss time because of the coronavirus.
"This is something we’ve been preparing for," Judge said.
Kitchens, he added, is "more than capable" of calling the plays.
"Our offense is our offense," Judge said. "We’ll see how it adjusts based on the game plan, we’ll see how it adjusts based on the rest of this week and how practice goes … We want to make sure we’re not throwing too many curveballs at the guys who are out there in the huddle calling it and playing."
If there is one thing the Giants don’t need this week, it’s another curveball.