Let’s get this out of the way first.
With Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in his usual state of discontent and Deshaun Watson vowing never to play another down in Houston (if the Texans even want him anymore), Giants coach Joe Judge was asked the obligatory quarterback question in advance of Thursday’s OTA session at the team’s training facility.
The question: “There are some high-profile quarterbacks out there whose futures are undetermined; is there a possibility of making a move to upgrade at quarterback or is Daniel Jones your Week 1 starter?’’
The answer (which came approximately a nanosecond after the question was completed): “Daniel Jones is our quarterback.’’
Once that was out of the way, Judge dished high praise for his third-year quarterback, who’s made a concerted effort to bulk up this offseason, indicating that Jones’ leadership had been taken to a next level.
“I’m proud of the way he works every day,’’ Judge said. “This guy comes to work every day and whatever phase he’s in — if he’s in the weight room, getting treatment on field, throwing with his teammates, organizing things outside this building — [and] always has a plan of how he’s going to attack things and proud to watch how he’s worked.
“Daniel never shies away from a challenge, comes ready to work. Some of the conversations we have, when we challenge him internally, this guy steps up every day to the plate and comes to work every day with a plan.’’
Unfortunately, Jones, who’s armed with some new weapons in the offseason, has been unable to work with them in the first three OTAs.
The biggest prize, receiver Kenny Golladay, who was signed to a four-year, $72 million contract, was not on the field Thursday for the team’s third OTA, which was the first one open to media. Also missing were free-agent receiver John Ross and first-round draft pick receiver Kadarius Toney.
Newly signed tight end Kyle Rudolph is rehabbing from foot surgery.
While Judge and Jones surely would like to have the new offensive toys on the field for these OTAs, the sessions are voluntary and the mandatory full-team minicamp takes place June 8-10, so presumably all those absent on Thursday will be there.
“I know everyone is working,’’ Jones said, referring to the players not at the OTAs. “We’re focused on what we’re doing here. I’m certainly focused on my fundamentals and technique. I think that’s kind of the opportunity right now in the spring to do that. I know guys are working. We’re just doing what we can to take a step every day.
“I’m excited to get back out on the field. I think we’ve got a great group of guys coming in from last year [and] a few new pieces here and there. It’s about working together and building chemistry, getting on the field. I think we have an opportunity to improve this spring, keep that going into training camp.’’
Golladay worked out with his new teammates, including Jones, in early April, a part of some throwing sessions in Phoenix.
“It’s voluntary,’’ Giants receiver Sterling Shepard said. “I’m confident that everybody is getting the work they need right now.’’
Shepard called Golladay, with whom he worked in April, “a big-body guy, someone that can stretch the field, something that we need as an offense.’’
“We’re adding playmakers to this offense,’’ Shepard said. “That’s something that we needed. We needed guys you can get the ball to and they can make something special happen after the catch. I’m really happy about the additions. I can’t wait to see those guys get out there and get to running around.
“I got to run around with KG [Golladay] a little bit. The way he plucks the ball is something special. Can’t wait to get out there on Sundays with him, get going.’’
One critical offensive weapon who is a returning player and also wasn’t practicing Thursday is running back Saquon Barkley, who’s still rehabbing his injured right knee. The hope is for Barkley, who tore his right ACL and suffered an injury to his meniscus, to be ready for the start of the regular season.
So, they’ll all be together on the field, and once the games begin for real that’ll be the true measure of how improved the Giants’ offense is and how much better Jones is in Year 3.
“A lot of these guys I’ve played with each of my first two years,’’ Jones said. “As a quarterback, my role is a lot of times to be that communicator, to bring guys together, to get guys moving toward where we need to go, thinking about our goals and what we want to accomplish come this fall.’’