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Players to Watch

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5 players to watch in Giants vs. Rams

PLAYERS-TO-WATCH

Here are five players to watch on Sunday when the Giants take on the Rams at MetLife Stadium:

WR Kadarius Toney

The silver lining to injuries at receiver has been the emergence of Kadarius Toney. The first-round draft choice set the franchise rookie record with 189 receiving yards last week, which were also the most by any rookie in the NFL since JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2017.

"The thing I always say about Toney that I think a lot of people don't realize is how strong he is and how powerful a runner he is," Joe Judge said in his weekly interview with Giants.com. "It shows up in terms of the extended runs and breaking tackles, but he has great instincts. He has really good vision on the field of seeing where there's an open space, no matter how small it is. He's got a very good short area change of direction and burst coming out of that first step to stop and go very quickly. He's also got that long speed to stretch the field and really separate over space, so he's obviously a unique player with a very good skillset. Maybe the biggest thing that really helps him, more so than the physical attributes, is how intelligent he is on the field. We always say, 'He speaks ball.' He knows multiple positions. He knows the concept of what's going on. You can bump him from one position to another on the fly, and he doesn't hesitate. He just jumps right in and executes correctly. This is a guy that really learns the big picture of the game. Football is something that comes naturally to him, but he works extremely hard at it."

RB Devontae Booker

After Saquon Barkley went down with an ankle injury in Week 5, Booker stepped up and recorded his third career two-touchdown game (one receiving, one rushing). Barkley has not practiced this week, which means Booker will again be called upon.

"Really, I just want to be out there and help this team win," Booker said. "There's no way else we can put it. We've been losing from the beginning, we went 0-3, won against New Orleans, lost last week, so it's up and down. Really at this point we just, everybody as a whole, wants to win. Just me being out there doing what I need to do, running and pass catching and stuff like that, pass blocking. All the stuff on my end would help the team win."

DL Leonard Williams

Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham wasn't predicting anything, but he said sometimes things "come in waves" when asked this week about Leonard Williams. The veteran defensive lineman has 1.5 sacks through five games, which isn't far off from the start of the best season of his career in 2020 (2.0 through five games).

"What I don't want him to start doing is pressing," Graham said. "I don't want him to do that. I don't want him to do that, so I think it starts with me and (Defensive Line Coach Sean) Spence (Spencer) getting him in the right spots and then from there hopefully it comes in bunches. Obviously, there's some technique stuff we could work on. Everybody would say that based on where we're at right now, but you need your best players to play well. You need that. That's a true statement."

WR Sterling Shepard

Shepard was tied for the league lead in catches through two weeks, but a hamstring injury caused him to miss the past two games. He looks "ready to go" for Sunday and hopes to resume his hot start.

"Yeah, really frustrating," Shepard said of the injury. "You get out to a pretty good start and just want to help the team get wins and then not to be a part of the win in New Orleans, it's one of the places I've never got to play. (I) really wanted to play there, and then Dallas is always a fun spot to play as well. It wasn't any fun missing those two and not being out there with the guys. But, back this week and hopefully we can get a W."

QB Daniel Jones/Mike Glennon

The Giants started the week with backup Mike Glennon taking first-team reps, but Daniel Jones has progressed through the concussion protocol to the point where the final step is receiving clearance from a third-party doctor.

"You have to build in some flexibility within your game plan, based on who's going to be available," Judge said about injuries in general. "You've got to think in terms of who their players are and what you have to do within the game to neutralize their strengths. Then also, who you have available to try to go and expose a weakness, so you look at the players who are going to be available. Obviously, if different players are available, that may lend to another scheme or two. I'd say we try to stick close to the overall big picture of the game plan, so it doesn't alter a lot of how we're going to play the game. But obviously based on different players, there are wrinkles here or there, or a scheme here or there that you've got to go ahead and maybe omit or adjust based on who's available."

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