When coaches opened their virtual meetings in the off-season, Austin Mack was one of the first faces they saw on their computer screens every day. The wide receiver routinely logged on early to ask questions and clean up material from the previous session.
That wasn't the only window to pop open with his name on it.
From the practice squad to dressing on game days, the undrafted rookie has made the most of his opportunities. The biggest one presented itself during Sunday's 23-20 victory in Washington, where Mack led the team with 72 yards on four catches, including a 50-yard hookup with Daniel Jones in the first quarter. It was the Giants' longest completion of the season.
"He's always looking for extra work," coach Joe Judge said. "He's that guy who leaves the field last. He's always got a smile on his face. He takes hard coaching really well. He's a guy we've been very demanding on and challenge him a great deal. Simply put, I think he's a guy that hasn't wasted any opportunities. He was on the practice squad, a window opened, he came in, he's made plays -- all right, ball comes his way, he's productive with it. So really, that's just our kind of our mode of operation. Whoever's at the game we count on to get production."
Mack's presence was especially needed on Sunday after Golden Tate did not travel with the team to Washington.
"We learned that this week and just prepared to play and go through the plan and get ready to play," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "Austin did a great job stepping up and made a lot of plays for us. He's someone who you can trust to be in the right spot, who's consistent, and brings it every day in practice. I certainly have a lot of trust in him, and like I said, he stepped up and made a lot of big plays."
Before Sunday, Mack had just one reception for a single yard in his first three NFL games. A casualty of the team's final roster cuts, Mack spent the first month of the season on the practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster on Oct. 3 - only to revert two days later after not suiting up in Week 4 in Los Angeles. He got his shot two weeks later in the first leg of the season series against Washington, a team he helped to sweep in Week 9.
"We answered the bell today," tight end Evan Engram said after the game. "Obviously, Golden is a great talent who has made plays over and over again all year. It was unfortunate not to have him today, but Austin Mack and a lot of other guys stepped up today. We just had to answer the adversity of not having one of our play-makers and go out there and compete and win the game."
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Mack joined the Giants after not hearing his named called in the 2020 NFL Draft. He played 45 career games (28 starts) at Ohio State, where he was teammates with Washington receiver Terry McLaurin, who was recently named a captain and led the team in receiving against the Giants.
Mack's career began with becoming the Buckeyes' first true freshman of 2016 to have his helmet black stripe removed, a symbol of earning his place as a key member of the team. Off the field, Mack served as president of Redefining Athletic Standards, a student organization he co-founded to discuss issues on campus and create events to help athletes be defined by more than sports.
"[Sunday] was a good day for him right there," Judge said. "We count on getting more days like that in the future, but we also we count on getting more production from all players, all the time."
View photos from the Week 9 matchup between the Giants and Washington at FedExField.