The Giants never seemed to doubt that Daniel Jones would be ready to play a week ago.
This week, they're not so sure.
The status of the Giants' quarterback is definitely uncertain after it was revealed he is now dealing with a sprained left ankle to go with his strained right hamstring. Jones admitted that his ankle is "sore" and he was officially limited at practice on Wednesday afternoon. A team source said Jones looked like he was struggling at practice and that backup Colt McCoy got more of the work with the first-team offense.
The source, who a week ago was "very optimistic" Jones would be available against the Arizona Cardinals, would only say, "We'll see," when asked if Jones would be ready to play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night.
Jones, for what it's worth, tried to sound optimistic during his post-practice Zoom call with the media.
"My job is to play and prepare to play," he said, "and I certainly feel like I can."
That's exactly what Giants coach Joe Judge expected his quarterback to say, which is why the decision will ultimately be made by the doctors and the coaching staff. For his part, Judge -- who only called the new injury a "lower leg issue" -- said almost the same thing about Jones that he said a week ago: that the Giants would give him a chance to practice during the week, see how he looked and felt, and they'd evaluate him over the next few days.
"We'll see how he moves in practice. We'll see how this progresses throughout the week," Judge said. "I can tell you that he's optimistic, but I'm going to tell you right now if his left arm was attached by a rubber band, he'd tell us he'd figure out a way to get it done. So we'll have to see him through practice this week."
Jones has at least begun on the same path he was on last week, after he missed the Giants' game in Seattle on Dec. 6 with the hamstring injury he suffered the previous week in Cincinnati. He was "limited" at practice last Wednesday and Thursday, before getting in a full practice on Friday as he prepared to return from his one-week absence to face the Arizona Cardinals.
But this time, the early returns were apparently not encouraging. Jones definitely looked hampered by what a source said is a "low" ankle sprain in the limited portion of practice that is open to the media. After that, according to the source, his ankle seemed to be much more of an issue than the hamstring was last week.
Jones said he hurt the ankle on a hit he took early in the game. The good news is that he was obviously able to play through it, though he was clearly limping in the second half. His mobility was severely restricted in that game as it was due to his hamstring injury. He had no rushing attempts in the game for the first time in his two NFL seasons and rarely was able to escape trouble in the pocket, which is partly why he was sacked six times.
That likely isn't going to be any better Sunday night if he is able to play, which is surely why Judge admitted he's considering using both his quarterbacks against the Browns. Knowing Jones won't be able to run much, there could be packages where McCoy can take over and put his mobility to use.
"I have no problem with doing that, to be honest with you," Judge said. "If there's a package that can help us with anybody on this team, I have no problem rolling guys through and doing whatever's best for the team. Obviously, you only play one quarterback, but that being said, I'm not shy to go ahead and have a package for another quarterback at the game like Colt if there's something that we think he can bring a little bit differently that might help us."
Of course, that's all if Jones is able to start. Otherwise, McCoy will have to make his second start of the season. The Giants may not have clarity on that until Friday. It's also possible they won't make a final decision until sometime Sunday night.