NEW YORK GIANTS UPDATE 

lGIANTS COULD BE MORE PLEASED WITH WHAT THEY HAVE IN JONES

As ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan reported, "It's halfway through his rookie season and already Daniel Jones is growing up quickly. That is the result of being thrown into the lion's den almost immediately for a bad team.

"The 22-year-old New York Giants quarterback is now six games into his NFL career and it's as if he has been there forever. There has been a magical comeback, some "wow" throws, too many turnovers and a steady mix of ups-and-downs.

"Still, Jones' early progress report at the midway point of the season is overwhelmingly positive. ..."

Other see it that way, too.

"He has definitely lived up to the sixth pick of the draft," former Giants quarterback and CBS analyst Phil Simms told Raanan. "I think everyone agrees with that. I don't hear any dissension from all the people that I'm around in business, work with, behind the scenes. In fact, I hear the opposite. 'Wow, OK, he looks like the really stable, productive quarterback that is going to stand the test of time too.' I surely don't look at him and go, 'He's having a good streak here.' I see him as very capable."

In Jones' most recent game, he threw for 322 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He became the second rookie in history (along with Tennessee's Marcus Mariota) to post those numbers in a game, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Still, the strong performance included rookie moments and mistakes. Jones had a sloppy backward pass in the first quarter that was ruled a fumble and returned for a touchdown.

It all seems par for the course at the moment. He is showcasing his talent while simultaneously taking his lumps. But even the mishaps at this point are beneficial. They serve as valuable learning experiences.

For example, Jones' first game action came against the Cowboys in the season opener. He tried to run late in the game, and instead of stepping out of bounds, he took a big hit from linebacker Leighton Vander Esch that forced a fumble.

Since then, Jones has been quick to slide or step out of bounds to avoid taking unnecessary hits. While his 6-5, 220-pound frame might have allowed him to overpower certain players in college, the NFL is different.

This is the maturation process in progress. The Giants are ecstatic publicly and behind closed doors. They believe Jones has a chance to be a star.

Jones, with 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, is on pace for 23 TD passes and 28 turnovers. There is undoubtedly room for major improvements. Jones has talked specifically about ball security and decision-making. On Monday, Shurmur mentioned timing, accuracy and decision-making.

Arm strength was the main public critique of Jones coming out of Duke, a notion the Giants correctly rejected. He didn't show more than an average arm from inside the stadium during his combine workout. And Simms didn't see consistent velocity on his passes while watching his college tape.

It hasn't been a problem in the NFL. If anything, Jones' arm strength has been a pleasant surprise. He fired a strike from the left hash mark off-balance Sunday in Detroit to the far sideline for a completion.

Veteran wide receiver Golden Tate mentioned after last Sunday's loss that Jones is texting with his receivers at night or talking to them constantly in between plays at practice to try to get on the same page. Receiver Bennie Fowler said Jones has taken receivers out to dinner to fortify those relationships.

It's necessary. They all know the kinks aren't going to be worked out overnight.

"I think that is important," Tate said. "I think we're doing a better job. I don't think we have it figured out. We have to keep working to get this thing right."

That's the thing with Jones. He's always working to make it right. And that is why the Giants and those watching Jones regularly -- like Simms -- seem so confident he is trending in the direction. ...

Meanwhile, wide receiver Sterling Shepard will not play for the New York Giants on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys.

Shepard had been cleared from the concussion protocol on Friday but after reporting to the team on Saturday night that he wasn't feeling well and still not feeling well on Sunday morning, he was placed back in the protocol.

Shepard suffered his current concussion against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 6 and has missed the Giants' past three games.

This is his second concussion of the season. He suffered his first concussion after the Giants' Week 1 loss to the Cowboys, complaining of concussion symptoms after the game. He missed the Giants' Week 2 game against the Bills after being placed in the protocol but returned in Week 3 to face the Buccaneers after being cleared.

Shepard, 26, was the Giants' leading receiver before the injury, with 25 catches for 267 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, despite a rough start, which included a backwards pass returned for a touchdown, Jones bounced back to have his best game as a pro against the Lions.

As USA Today's Pat Ragazzo noted, Jones went 28-of-41 for 322 yards and four touchdowns. He also had a 58% third down conversion rate.

Jones took two deep shots to Darius Slayton resulting in two impressive touchdown passes.

Unfortunately, the offense did not attempt another long passing play for the rest of the game. This needs to change on Monday.

In addition, Ragazzo believes Saquon Barkley must be used in space in the passing game more, as he had a 38-yard catch-and-run on an angle route, where he would have scored if he did not lose his footing. Once again, head coach Pat Shurmur has to utilize Barkley in these situations more in order to help Jones max out his weapons.

Barkley had 19 carries for 64 yards and eight catches for 79 yards and a touchdown last week. The Giants must stick to a balanced attack to help take pressure off Jones. If Jones can build off an impressive game last week, he can dig into a Cowboys pass defense that allows 228 yards per game.

One last note here. ... As ESPN's Mike Clay notes, Darius Slayton exploded for a pair of touchdowns last Sunday, but there are two things to keep in mind: (1) Shepard was out and will return this week, and (2) Slayton scored on his only two receptions and was targeted five times in the game.

Clay went on to point out that Slayton played 85 percent of the snaps, but the rookie would still be behind Shepard, Golden Tate (10 targets on Sunday), Saquon Barkley (10) and Evan Engram (seven) in terms of target priority.

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