Daniel Jones has succeeded in getting his Giants teammates to follow his lead – a huge step in the development of a young quarterback who turned 23 two weeks ago.
Jones, entering his second NFL season, organized an off-site throwing and catching program with his skill players – ones scattered across the country, forced to stay out of the Giants facility amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Last week and again this week, Jones brought the group together in Austin, Texas, The Post has learned. The arrangements were helped along by Colt McCoy, the former University of Texas quarterback, who signed this season with the Giants and has strong connections to his alma mater.
Wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton and tight end Kaden Smith were among what was described as “a pretty good group of guys” in attendance during the two weeks of sessions, which included plenty of football and also a fair amount of golf.
This was a come-as-you-go deal, with as many as 15-20 players participating at various points in time. Based on social media posts, receivers Golden Tate and Corey Coleman, star running back Saquon Barkley and Jon Hilliman made their way to Austin as well.
Running the routes designed by new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, discussing the concepts in the passing game, together, on the field, and having Jones get in sync with his targets are all necessary steps that Jones made sure he and his teammates would be able to take during this unusual offseason.
Jones back in mid-May acknowledged he felt an increased responsibility to emerge as a team leader, saying “that’s something I need to take seriously, and I certainly do.”
One source said the sessions have been going “great” and that Jones, at this early juncture of his career, was able to pull it off is a sign he is “taking some leadership, which is good.”
This is also a positive sign regarding McCoy, the 33-year old entering his 11th NFL season and first with the Giants. McCoy spent the past six years with the Redskins and is considered a useful sounding board for younger quarterbacks. Helping Jones find a suitable location to hold the throwing sessions is in keeping with McCoy’s reputation as a loyal backup.
“Daniel and I have had several conversations,” McCoy said not long after he signed in April. “I think most importantly, it’s just ‘Man, I know you had Eli [Manning] in there and you understand the value of a great quarterback room. I don’t want that to change. I’ve got your back. I’m fully supportive of you.’ ”
This is not the first time Jones assembled his teammates away from the Giants facility. In early February, two days after Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Jones, having recently completed his rookie year, and his receivers got together at Duke, Jones’ alma mater, for throwing sessions. This picked up where Manning left off, as Manning regularly organized these sessions at Duke, where his former head coach at Ole Miss, David Cutcliffe, is currently the head coach.
Before the coronavirus hit, Jones was staying in his New Jersey apartment and he was able to get together a few times to throw with Giants teammates.
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“Yeah, that was valuable,” Jones said back in mid-May. “That was valuable to get that time together.”
Jones waited out the pandemic back home at his parents’ house in Charlotte, N.C. He found a small group of former high school and college teammates to throw to while social distancing. As far as learning and working on the new concepts in Garrett’s system and getting the routes down, Jones relied mostly on Zoom chats and discussions, before the get-together in Austin.
“These conversations, a lot of our meetings have to do with routes, trying to get on the same page, trying to see things the same and talk through a lot of that, talk through a lot of those finer points,” Jones said before the Austin workouts. “I think we can still work on those things. Although we’re not able to get on the field, we can work to come to understandings about how we’re going to run certain things, when we’re going to look for certain routes and that sort of stuff.”
The Giants’ all-remote offseason program ends on Friday. As of now, players will report to training camp July 29.
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