Giants QB Daniel Jones says recovery from ACL tear is 'going well'

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones tore the ACL in his right knee in a Week 9 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Ian Maule/Getty Images

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones felt pain in his right knee on Nov. 5, he knew his season was over. At that point, it was all about turning the page and getting healthy for next season.

After the swelling subsided and he was given the green light by doctors, the Giants' starting quarterback went for surgery for his torn ACL on Thanksgiving.

Jones, 26, could have easily waited until the following week and enjoyed the holiday pain-free with his family. Instead, he opted for surgery on that Thursday morning because, in his mind, every day mattered. Eighteen days post-injury was already longer than he wanted to wait.

A typical ACL tear usually comes with approximately a nine-month recovery. Based on what he's heard from doctors, friends who have had similar injuries and the Giants medical staff, Jones expects to be back for Week 1. And training camp, too.

"I do," Jones said after the season. "I think [the goal is] take it one stage at a time and focus on what is right in front of us. Definitely the goal is to be back by training camp. I feel like I'm making good progress."

There have been no serious setbacks almost three months into the rehab. Jones told the New York Daily News during Super Bowl week that he has progressed to running on an anti-gravity treadmill.

He updated that his recovery is "going well."

These are all positive signs with training camp starting in late July. That's eight months post-surgery for Jones. Nine months would take him to the end of camp in late August.

That should provide plenty of time for Jones to be ready for the regular season.

If recent history suggests anything, Jones will be back at practice sometime this summer at the latest. The return-to-practice times for high-profile NFL quarterbacks in recent years following ACL tears: Joe Burrow: seven months; Deshaun Watson: six months; Ryan Tannehill: nine months; Jimmy Garoppolo: seven months; Joe Flacco: seven months; and Robert Griffin: six months.

Philip Rivers once even made it back in four months (100 days) after tearing his ACL in the playoffs and returning for the start of spring practice. Tom Brady needed eight-plus months when he tore the ACL in his left knee in 2008, and that was after some setbacks caused by infections in the same surgically-repaired knee.

The longest it took any high-profile quarterback to return to practice was Kyler Murray (over nine months) last season, in part because the Arizona Cardinals seemed to slow his return in a transition year with a new head coach.

Working in Jones' favor was that his was a relatively standard ACL tear. There was no significant additional damage, he said after the surgery.

"Right side is a bigger deal in strength in terms of pushing off to be accurate downfield, but less in terms of being skittish because it's the front leg that is always exposed," said Dr. David Chao, the former team doctor for the Los Angeles Chargers. "[Jones] does run the ball but, believe it or not, the first thing to come back is acceleration and high-end speed. Straight line. But cutting and deceleration are the last thing to come back. But he's kind of a straight-line guy. He doesn't have much wiggle, right?"

Former Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer, who tore a knee twice during his playing career, doesn't doubt that Jones will be back. He expects him to be practicing this summer.

But Toomer is skeptical that Jones will be his old self running the football immediately upon his return. And that is a big part of Jones' game. He rushed for 708 yards and seven touchdowns during his breakout 2022 season.

"It took me a full calendar year until I got that last bit of pop back in my knee," Toomer said. "It's not easy. It's not ideal for his situation."

Jones wants to be patient, but he may not have a lot of time. The Giants will add a quarterback this offseason, and grabbing one early in the draft is, at the very least, on the table, if not the preference.

That puts Jones' future in flux. The Giants can get out of his four-year, $160 million deal after this upcoming season. The cost would be a digestible $22.2 million dead cap hit next year.

"Well, there's a chance he's not ready for Week 1," general manager Joe Schoen said last month. "So yeah, you got to sign somebody that you can hope -- again, plan for the worst, hope for the best -- like you plan for him not being ready. So you're going to need somebody that can hopefully win you some games early on if he's not ready."

The Giants currently have Jones and Tommy DeVito under contract for next season. Veteran backup Tyrod Taylor is expected to become a free agent next month.

The Giants will need DeVito, a veteran free agent or a quarterback from the draft to be ready to start Week 1. It's a necessary contingency. But all signs point to Jones being ready.