If Daniel Jones does not start Sunday for the Giants, it will be a major surprise.
What a drastic turn of events in just a few days from the scary sight of a wobbly Jones needing help from the Cowboys to keep his balance before boarding a cart on the field in Arlington, Texas without even returning to the sideline.
Jones was the first quarterback taking snaps during the 15-minute media viewing window into Thursday’s practice, though coach Joe Judge withheld Jones from certain drills and listed him as limited on the injury report. He is in with Step 4 (non-contact practice) of the five-step NFL concussion protocol, and, barring a setback, only needs clearance from an independent neurologist to start against the Rams.
“At this point, everything looks positive,” Judge said. “The one thing about [concussions] is it’s completely out of our hands. This isn’t like some sort of soft tissue or a joint where as a coaching staff and a medical staff we can talk and make some sort of assessment on game day.”
There is no established timeline for progressing from one step to the next because all concussions vary based on severity of symptoms. Giants tight end Kaden Smith cleared the protocol without missing a game last season but receiver Sterling Shepard missed one game with his first concussion in 2019 and then five games with a second concussion later that season.
“Daniel seems like he is doing fine,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said before practice. “He seems like himself.”
Three weeks ago, NFL social media accounts celebrated Jones’ toughness when he powered through a tackle from 305-pound defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to score a two-point conversion. Two weeks later, Jones put his head down and slammed into Cowboys linebacker Jabril Cox at the goal line, landing with his head hitting the turf, Cox on his back and just short of the goal line.
So the narrative has changed to Jones’ ability to protect himself from big hits — and the Giants’ responsibility in calling quarterback runs.
“We would never put a player back out there if he wasn’t healthy enough to play,” Garrett said. “Certainly in a situation with a concussion, we wouldn’t do that. As an organization, as a coaching staff, we care too much about these guys to put them in situations where they weren’t right. So, if he’s back and ready to go, we’re going to play football and ask him to do what we need to do.”
Judge said he heard Cowboys defensive back Jayron Kearse punched tight end Evan Engram after Sunday’s game wrapped.
“If the league wants to step in, I’m not going to go ahead and address anything with [the league],” Judge said. “I’m adamant that our players know we are not going to have any junk on the field after the game. Evan showed a lot of restraint in the way he handled it. The players kind of pulled him back, from what I understand. A lot of respect for how Evan handles himself.”
RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) and WR Kenny Golladay (knee) did not practice. Jones, LT Andrew Thomas (foot), S Jabrill Peppers (hamstring), Logan Ryan (hip), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (ankle), OL Ben Bredeson (hand), DB Nate Ebner (quad), LB Justin Hilliard (ankle) and LG Matt Skura (knee) were limited. It was a step forward for Jones, Thomas and Skura after not participating Wednesday as preplanned, according to Judge.