EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The offseason work is done. The spring has run its course. The New York Giants had three mandatory minicamp workouts and 10 OTA practices, which concluded Thursday. The media was allowed to attend six of the 13 days.
It was enough to get a taste of what was happening on the field, particularly with the quarterbacks. Yes, even coach Pat Shurmur acknowledged that is where the attention will stay even more so this season than most. So all eyes were on No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones and the franchise legend he will eventually replace, Eli Manning. Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta are also part of this season's quarterback group.
Here's a rundown of what I saw:
Manning: He's in good shape and throwing the ball relatively well. The velocity on his throws is workable. Manning is the clear-cut starter and took all the first-team reps during practice. He started slowly in the first OTA but looked better and more comfortable as the offseason program progressed. The noticeable difference was Manning's willingness to throw it downfield more than in 2018. The checkdowns weren't quite as frequent. Manning credits this to being more comfortable in Year 2 of Shurmur's offense. "The second year makes a difference," Manning said. "It's not just me, it's more just everybody." That includes quarterback, receivers, offensive line and coaches. The Giants can now open the offense up more than they have in the past.
There were mistakes, interceptions and inaccurate throws, but nothing more than usual with Manning at quarterback. This spring has only added to the Giants' optimism that Manning can have a bounce-back season at age 38. "Eli is getting ready to have a great year," Shurmur said after Tuesday's OTA. The spring went well for Manning.
Jones: He had his ups and downs during OTAs and minicamp. This is expected for a rookie just months removed from taking snaps at Duke. Jones had a lot to learn and absorb. The Giants have been impressed with how quickly he's been able to adjust. "You can kind of see him getting more comfortable," tight end Evan Engram said as the offseason progressed. What maybe has been most impressive about Jones was the way he threw deep balls. His connection with fellow rookie Darius Slayton (one of the Giants' most surprising players this spring) was noticeable. Jones threw the deep ball with accuracy and touch. He also dispelled any criticism that his arm strength was insufficient. He flashed more than ample velocity on his throws and showed athletic ability the Giants haven't seen consistently from the quarterback position in quite some time.
"I think he has had a really good offseason. ... I think he has had a really, really productive offseason. He is on track with the goal to be ready to play Day 1," Shurmur said. The Giants want Jones to be ready just in case. He's still a significant underdog to start. Something outrageous would need to happen for him to jump Manning, even though Jones quickly worked his way onto the second-team offense this spring. But he still has a way to go to be ready to start NFL games. Jones struggled at times this spring with the looks he was seeing from the defense.
At practice Tuesday, he looked uncertain and rushed for a significant stretch. He hit on two of his first seven pass attempts, but finished strong by completing seven of eight. This is the life of a rookie quarterback, but Jones' ability to retain information and not make the same mistake over and over again can give the Giants confidence. "I think I am making progress," Jones said. "I certainly don't think I am there at all." Regardless, the early returns are positive.
Tanney: He started the spring working mostly with the second team before Jones moved his way up the depth chart. Tanney finished OTAs splitting his time between the second and third teams. It was more a product of Jones being the quarterback of the future than anything Tanney did on the field. Tanney had days when he threw well -- particularly early on, when he was the best quarterback on the field at the first OTA.
More than likely, Tanney is vying for the third quarterback spot this summer. He was ahead of Lauletta in the pecking order last season and again this spring.
Lauletta: Last year's fourth-round pick started the spring on the sideline as he rehabbed a knee injury. Lauletta had his knee cleaned out this offseason, but worked his way back on the field at the end of the spring and seemed to be throwing the ball well. He still has some ground to make up in order to secure a spot on the roster. When he received work this spring, it was with the third-team offense.