EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The spotlight on the Giants' wide receivers is understandably focused on the players whose roster spots are secure (Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard), and not so brightly on the players fighting for jobs (just about everyone else).
But the other 10 receivers on the roster are doing everything they can to take a step forward, knowing that one big play can catch the coaches' attention.
In practice today, three young, undrafted wideouts — Kalif Raymond, Amba Etta-Tawo and Jawill Davis — made four of the most impressive catches of the day. All of the receptions were well down the field and in traffic, and were thrown by one of the team's backup quarterbacks.
For a receiver, one exceptional catch can be the difference between calling a practice exceptional or forgettable.
"Every time I go out there, I try to, at least, put something on film," said Etta-Tawo, who joined the Giants last season when he was signed to the practice squad. "There's still a long way to go. Maybe you can call it flash or whatever, I'm just trying to put something on film for right now, keep on building on the momentum from the day before. Just stacking days on top of each other, taking it one day at a time."
Raymond, who played in six games for the Giants last season, hauled in a long pass down the right side from Alex Tanney.
Davis caught a similar throw from Tanney on the left side. But his biggest play was in the two-minute drill, when he leaped parallel to the ground to catch a fourth-down pass from fellow rookie Kyle Lauletta.
"It was an in-cut route," Davis said. "I came out of my break, I saw the ball coming out. In my head, I'm like, 'I got to lay out for it and make a big play.' It was fourth down. It was the best way to make the play for the team, keep the drive moving.
"(The coaches) were saying, 'Great catch, that's how you make a play and keep the drive moving.'"
Davis wasn't drafted after catching 106 passes at Bethune-Cookman, but he doesn't consider himself a longshot.
"I just go out there and grind," he said. "Have a, you know, dog mindset. I keep my head down, grinding, and soak up everything so when I get out there, I make my plays when the ball comes to me."
Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert has been impressed with the youngsters.
"I like the group as a whole," Tolbert said. "Amba has flashed along with some other guys. Some guys are flashing even without the ball. People have a tendency to focus on guys with the ball, but what you don't see is guys flashing running routes, beating the corners one way or another and they don't get the ball thrown to them. I am more impressed with that, because guys are really working. Sometimes guys, they kind of know based on the defense they aren't getting the ball, but they are still running hard and getting open, so a lot of guys have flashed with the ball like Amba and some other guys. But a lot of guys have been flashing without the ball, too, and they are still getting open, snagging opportunities right now."
*Tolbert has a long-time relationship with Beckham, which has helped the two bond in the coach's first season with the team.
"It has helped, obviously," Tolbert said. "I played with his dad at LSU 100 years ago and his mom Heather was a multiple All-American (in track) when she was there, and I've known her the whole time. Odell was actually born when we were in college, so it helped me have an immediate connection with him. I have known him before here because I follow LSU and I met him a couple times. When you get here, you have an immediate connection, I played with his dad, went to school with his mom, so that made the transition for me to come here and for him to come with me a little bit easier because I have that immediate connection."
*Cornerback Donte Deayon, safety Curtis Riley and tight end Garrett Dickerson all missed practice with hamstring injuries.
*The Giants were awarded tackle Victor Salako off waivers. Salako was released yesterday by the Cleveland Browns. To open a spot on the roster for Salako, the Giants waived tackle Jarron Jones.
Salako, 6-5 and 316 pounds, was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles on May 15, 2017. He was released on Sept. 1. He was on the practice squads of the Eagles from Sept. 12-18 and the Cleveland Browns from Oct. 25 through the end of the season. The Browns signed him to a reserve/futures contract on Jan. 2 and released him on Tuesday.
Jones was with the Giants in training camp last year and was re-signed on June 11.