Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 12-23-20

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he was one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls up until last year. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
If you thought Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were problems for the Giants, just wait for Lamar Jackson to get started Sunday afternoon.

He's the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback, yet another first-round draft choice (2018) and so far this season he has completed 215 of 332 passes for 2,461 yards and 21 touchdowns - and he has rushed 135 times for 828 yards (that's 6.1 per trip) and scored seven times.

The 6-2, 215-pound product of the University of Louisville (yep, that's where Johnny Unitas played before he went on to Baltimore) is more of a threat than the last two first rounders the Giants have played (and lost to), Murray and Mayfield.

So what about their quarterback, Daniel Jones, who missed last week's loss to Cleveland because of a sprained Achilles tendon and a sprained ankle? Will he play?

He is optimistic, although the choice, ultimately, isn't his. "I'm closer every day and feeling better every day. I'm just trying to heal up as fast as I can," he said Wednesday. "I'm feeling better and need to keep doing what I'm asked to do, doing what I'm supposed to do, working with the trainers and making sure I keep going in that direction.

"My approach every day is to do what they ask me to do. I don't know about evaluating what I can and can't do. I'm going to do everything I can and let people guide me and control the rehab program as far as what I'm allowed to do and how hard I push it. My job is to work as hard as I possibly can."

Head coach Joe Judge, who decided not to use Jones last week even though the quarterback insisted he was ready, looks at the situation this way: "In a perfect world, I'd love to have an answer as soon as possible. But I'm not going to set a time mark on this. We'll come out of Friday after practice with some kind of an answer.

"But we're just going to throw Daniel out there and let him practice, see how he does. We've gotten good feedback from him and the trainers, but again, we'll have to put him out there and see how he's moving around."

The Giants, who are staggering 10-point underdogs, are facing elimination (finally) from the NFC East race if they lose. They are in second place, a game behind Washington, but the Unnamed Team is playing 4-10 Carolina, kind of a team without a defense, at home; the Giants, of course, are 5-9 and will be in Baltimore against the 9-5 Ravens.

But making the playoffs, however important that may be to the fans, isn't quite as crucial to Judge in his long-range vision. "I don't think our progress can be measured by whether or not we make the playoffs," he said. "I'm not downplaying them, we're all here to compete. We're all here for the highest prize in sports. I believe in keeping our sights on the immediate goal and the long-term goal will take care of itself."

But regardless of what happens on Sunday or in the division race, no matter who takes the snaps from behind center in these last two games, Judge is certain on one thing.

"Daniel is our quarterback," he said. "I have no doubt about that. Watching him work, watching the respect he has in the locker room, watching him improve throughout this season, I think he has a level of toughness and leadership and knowledge on the field that gives us confidence to put him out there and build with him.

"I'm not going to point to one moment, but I can talk about this season and he has definitely earned my respect. I made it hard on him from the beginning in a lot of ways and he never blinked."

EXTRA POINTS - Five Giants were listed as "limited" in practice Wednesday. ... They were Jones, tight end Evan Engram, cornerback Darnay Holmes, tackle Matt Peart and wide receiver Golden Tate. ... Oh, one question about Engram: How is it he made the Pro Bowl team and linebacker Blake Martinez, who is in the top three in tackles in the NFL with 128, didn't?

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