Drew Lock’s rough OTA practice reinforces Daniel Jones is Giants’ QB1; Malik Nabers continues to impress

Drew Lock’s rough OTA practice reinforces Daniel Jones is Giants’ QB1; Malik Nabers continues to impress

New York Giants' Daniel Jones particpates during an NFL football practice Thursday, May 23, 2024, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Giants’ Daniel Jones particpates during an NFL football practice Thursday, May 23, 2024, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

By  | pleonard@nydailynews.com | New York Daily News

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Thursday was a good reminder that Daniel Jones is the best quarterback on the Giants’ roster, regardless of Drew Lock’s signing as competition and the organization’s pursuit of Drake Maye in the NFL Draft.

This was only one indoor OTA practice in May with Jones limited to 7-on-7 throws. But Lock had a rough day running the first-team offense in the 11-on-11 periods.

He made a dangerous throw into traffic, missed a few passes high to open targets, delivered a near interception deep into coverage and looked generally uncomfortable. A deep touchdown pass up the seam to rookie first-round pick Malik Nabers was Lock’s only silver lining.

Jones, meanwhile, said “I don’t have any doubt” that his body and right knee will be full-go for the Giants’ Week 1 regular season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. And he welcomed the challenge that was issued to him this offseason by the Giants’ aggressive quarterback pursuit.

“Yeah, I mean, I wasn’t fired up about it,” Jones, 26, admitted in arguably his most candid interview as a Giant to date. “But I think that it’s part of it at this level. What I can do is focus on myself and getting healthy [and] playing the best football I can play, that I know I’m capable of playing. That’s my job, and that’s what I’m gonna do.

“I don’t think you can take anything personally at this level,” Jones said, when asked about the team’s attempt to trade up for Maye. “How exactly it happened and what happened, I’m not sure I know, I’m not sure you know. But at the end of the day I’m focused on playing good football.”

He’ll have a better chance of playing good football if Nabers continues playing the way he did in Thursday’s practice. The rookie receiver was open on virtually every 11-on-11 route he ran.

Jones hit rookie tight end Theo Johnson on his first 7-on-7 pass and then backed that up with a completion to Nabers on an in-cut out of the right slot. Nabers also made the play of the day on his deep TD over top of the entire defense.

“Great route runner,” Jones said of Nabers. “Strong, fast, adjusts to the ball well. I’m fired up to get Malik. I watched some of his tape in college, and he’s a dynamic player. So I was fired up to see we got him, and it’s been fun getting to work with him.”

Jones is aiming to be ready for full-team reps by the start of training camp, so July and August should provide some exciting glimpses of how the Jones-Nabers duo can attack opposing secondaries and help one of the NFL’s worst offenses rebound.

Nabers offers Jones his best hope of putting the drama of this unsettling offseason behind him.

While Jones was rehabbing his torn right ACL this spring, coming off a second serious neck injury, Russell Wilson took a free agent visit to the Giants’ facility before signing with Pittsburgh Steelers. Lock, the former Seahawks backup, then signed with the Giants because he was told he would have a chance to compete to start.

Then co-owner John Mara backed Jones but also endorsed selecting his potential successor as competition in March. And the Giants included their 2024 second-round pick and 2025 first-round pick in a trade offer to the New England Patriots for the No. 3 overall pick, per sources, but the Patriots declined and selected Maye themselves.

The Giants then claimed Nathan Rourke off waivers from New England after the draft. And he is now slotted at No. 4 on the depth chart behind No. 3 Tommy DeVito.

Jones was asked if he feels the Giants are still committed to him for the long term.

“I feel good about where we’re going,” he said. “I feel good about this team, and my job is to get healthy and play good football.”

He did not bat an eye when asked if he views Lock as competition for the No. 1 job.

“I think we’re all trying to do what we can to make this team as good as possible,” he said. “Like any other year I’m competing with guys in there and like every room on our team there’s competition. I’m gonna try to get healthy and play good football.”

Lock, of course, is not defined by one non-contact practice in May. He’ll have his chances to bounce back. And he was under pressure often Thursday from pass rusher Brian Burns, who was lighting up left tackle Josh Ezeudu with starter Andrew Thomas sitting out all 11-on-11 team reps.

So maybe Lock still can turn the heat and create a true quarterback competition.

Jones rejected the notion that any outside factor like the Giants’ near selection of a quarterback, however, would put a bigger chip on his shoulder than he already has.

“I’m always motivated,” Jones said. “I consider myself a really driven guy, and I’m always gonna work as hard as I possibly can. I always feel like I have a lot to prove. I’m motivated and doing everything I can to be ready to go.”


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