Giants big-money receiver Kenny Golladay played 14 snaps and three offensive series in Sunday’s preseason finale, even though Daniel Jones and a lot of starters got the day off.
Head coach Brian Daboll was noncommittal postgame when asked if Golladay’s roster spot could be in jeopardy.
“All those receivers are competing,” Daboll said. “Kenny’s had a good camp. [GM] Joe [Schoen] and I will sit back and we’ll talk about everybody.”
Daboll later clarified it was not his intent to imply Golladay could be cut.
“I’m just saying I’m not gonna commit to anybody being on the roster or not being on the roster until I sit down with Joe and have a conversation with Joe,” the first-year head coach said. “We have a lot to talk about at a lot of different positions. That’s really not what I meant. I’m just saying we have a lot of conversations to have.”
Cutting Golladay doesn’t make sense financially. Golladay’s 2022 cap hit is $21.15 million, but the Giants’ dead money charge actually would increase his hit to $25.4 million if they released him, per overthecap.com.
Still, it was hard to miss Golladay suiting up without his starting quarterback, Saquon Barkley and four of the offensive line’s five starters.
Golladay politely declined comment while leaving the locker room after the game. And he didn’t break stride when he was asked if he was surprised he’d been asked to play in the game.
His only target was a Tyrod Taylor interception that was not Golladay’s fault. It was picked underneath by the Jets’ Michael Carter II, peeling off another Giants receiver.
Daboll was asked if he had any questions about Golladay’s effort on the Giants’ first play from scrimmage: Matt Breida carried the ball to the left, and Golladay braced himself but didn’t block or touch a defender as Jets safety Lamarcus Joyney and Brandin Echols barreled in for the tackle.
“I have to take a look at the tape,” Daboll said.
“We were playing all the receivers,” the coach summarized. “It’s a competitive group, so they’re out there competing.” He added of Golladay: “He’s done what we’ve asked him to do.”
Wide receiver Darius Slayton says it was not a surprise to see Golladay playing in the finale.
“I would say no, mostly because our room is so competitive,” Slayton said. “So much talent in there from top to bottom. So I think it’s in all our interests to be out there as much as possible and try to put our best foot forward.”
SLAYTON SEES POSSIBLE END OF ROAD
Darius Slayton, a 2019 Giants fifth-round pick, said he would not be surprised if he ended up on another team soon.
“I don’t think surprised is the word,” he said, when asked that question. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’d be surprised, no.”
Slayton, 25, said he tweaked his hamstring in the preseason opener in New England, and that limited his ability to showcase his skills to the new staff.
“More frustrating is not being able to be out there this whole camp because of injury,” he said. “When I’m out there, the reps are what they are. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make the most of them. But not having the opportunity because of injury has probably been more frustrating. I definitely think throughout camp I made plays [when I was on the field]. Hopefully it was enough.”
There are NFL teams interested in Slayton, but they’ve been expecting the Giants to release him, so that makes it difficult for Schoen to swing a trade.
“Wherever the cards fall, they fall,” Slayton said. “I don’t really stress about it too much. If it’s meant for me to be here, I’ll be here. If it’s not, I won’t.”
BELLINGER, HOLMES LEAVE INJURED
Giants tight end Daniel Bellinger and defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes both left Sunday’s game to be evaluated for concussions. Bellinger has been penciled in as the team’s starting tight end all spring and summer. Holmes has been battling for a roster spot on the interior D-line.
That made for another brutal day for the Giants on the injury front, combined with backup QB Tyrod Taylor’s back injury in the first quarter.
Running back Jashaun Corbin and linebacker Micah McFadden both went to the X-ray room postgame, as well, but there were no updates. Both players were walking under their own power. Corbin appeared to tweak his ankle or leg on an awkward tackle in the fourth quarter.
Injured left guard Shane Lemieux entered the locker room pregame with his left knee on a scooter and his left foot in a boot. That explains why Daboll said Friday that Lemieux wouldn’t play “anytime soon.”
Third-string QB Davis Webb completed 30-of-38 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown to TE Austin Allen. Corbin had 56 yards and a TD run on 11 touches. And linebacker Austin Calitro’s second interception was a 35-yard pick six of Joe Flacco. Backup kicker Ryan Santoso knocked through field goals from 49 and 36 yards.
TONEY, WILLIAMS SIT ENTIRE PRESEASON
Neither Kadarius Toney nor Leonard Williams played a single snap this preseason. Williams has been durable his whole career. It seems the Giants are managing something with him and saving him for the games that count. Toney failed to fully practice in 12 of 19 Giants practices this summer and had major injury/availability issues as a rookie, too. He had an offseason knee procedure and was punching at his right hamstring during a recent practice.
STARTERS GET REST
On defense, Daboll rested starters Williams, DL Dexter Lawrence, CBs Adoree Jackson and Darnay Holmes, and safeties Julian Love and Xavier McKinney. On offense, the Giants sat QB Daniel Jones, RB Saquon Barkley; WR Sterling Shepard; O-linemen Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal and Mark Glowinski; and Toney. Everyone in that group other than Williams and Toney appears to be healthy.
Edge Jihad Ward did play 16 snaps, a good sign at a position where the team is decimated by injury. Ward missed the second preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and several practices, with an undisclosed injury.
THE INJURED GROUP
The following injured or recovering players also sat out: Lemieux, OL Ben Bredeson (right arm), OL Josh Ezuedu, OL Garrett McGhin, WR C.J. Board (ribs), Shepard, edge Kayvon Thibodeaux (sprained right MCL), edge Azeez Ojulari (calf), edge Elerson Smith (right foot), corner Rodarius Williams, safety Dane Belton (broken collarbone), kicker Graham Gano (concussion).