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Players to Watch: Darius Slayton steps up big

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The Giants have jumped out to a 4-1 start this season, surprising many around the league, thanks in part to contributions from some unlikely sources.

In last week's win over the Packers, the player that led the team in receptions and receiving yards entered the game with just one reception on the season. Meanwhile, a running back not named Saquon Barkley rushed for a touchdown, the first of his NFL career, as did a tight end. Due to numerous injuries, the defense also saw some unheralded players step up and play a role in the Week 5 win.

After facing Aaron Rodgers, the 2020 and '21 NFL MVP, last week, the Giants will now take on the 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson in Week 6.

Here are five players to watch in Giants vs. Ravens at MetLife Stadium:

QB Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones has shown tremendous toughness through the first five games of the season. Less than one week after injuring his ankle, Jones was taking all of the GIants' offensive snaps in London. Jones throwing hand was seen bleeding throughout the game, but that did not slow down the young signal-caller. The fourth-year quarterback finished 21-of-27 (77.8 percent) for a season-high 217 yards. He earned a passer rating of 100.2, the second time he's crossed the 100.0 mark this season (115.9 passer rating in Week 1).

Jones also played a key role in the run game against the Packers. He rushed the ball 10 times, matching his season-high, for 37 yards. Jones has 230 rushing yards on the season, the third-highest among NFL quarterbacks (trailing Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts), with two rushing touchdowns. His 5.6 yards per attempt is tied with Cowboys running back Tony Pollard for the eighth-highest mark in the league.

"I think I've gotten to know him pretty well here these last few months," Brian Daboll said about his QB. "He's a very mentally tough kid, I shouldn't say (kid) – young man. But he's also physically tough. And I got to see that here just throughout the week, getting prepared for this team that we had to play and their defense, which they have some pretty good guys up front. But he's really tough. He didn't want to miss any reps. We also had to try to get (quarterback) Davis (Webb) ready to go. So, again, each day he got a little bit better.

"He was pretty sore, I'd say, after the game. And then the next day, he's in here as long as he can be in here getting treatment. So, one, he cares about the team. And he did everything he could do to be as ready as he could. And I'd say that for the first five weeks that I've been with him for the regular season, I think he's exhibited his toughness – both mental and physical – every day I've been around him."

The Ravens enter this matchup with the league's worst passing defense, surrendering 290.2 passing yards per game. However, the unit is tied for the league lead with eight interceptions.

View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their Week 6 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

WR Darius Slayton

Darius Slayton and Jones got their NFL careers off on a strong note together. Both were draft picks in 2019, a season in which Slayton finished with 48 receptions for 740 yards and eight touchdowns. However, Slayton's numbers dropped last season, and through the first four weeks of this season, the young receiver had caught just one pass. But all of that changed in London.

Slayton broke out with six receptions for 79 yards on seven targets against the Packers, all of which led the team. Not only that, but he also earned an elite 89.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, the highest on the team and the third-highest among NFL wide receivers in Week 5. Jones had a 113.7 passer rating when targeting him in London and discussed his chemistry with Slayton this week.

"I thought he had a great game on Sunday," the quarterback said about Slayton. "I have a lot of trust and confidence in him. I've said it. We've been here since we were both rookies. I've played a lot of football with him and built up a lot of trust, a lot of chemistry over time. To see him go out there and have that good of a game was exciting and I was happy for him. We'll continue to try and get him the ball, but he was big time on Sunday."

Baltimore has a talented pair of cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. The two veteran corners each suffered season-ending injuries last season, but both were able to work their way back on the field this year. Humphrey and Peters have combined for three interceptions and six passes defensed through five games.

LT Andrew Thomas

There is no other way to put it – Andrew Thomas has been downright dominant this season. The left tackle is in his third season with the Giants and looks to have taken a significant jump. Thomas has been on the field for every one of the 332 offensive snaps the Giants have had this season, including 191 pass block snaps. Of those, the tackle has not allowed a sack and surrendered just six total pressures.

PFF has recognized Thomas for his stellar play with an amazing 91.9 overall grade, which is tied with Kansas City Chiefs DL Chris Jones for the highest mark of any player in the NFL. He has had the highest overall mark among all offensive linemen for three consecutive weeks, and has shown no signs of slowing down. Perhaps the biggest improvement in Thomas' game has been his run blocking. After he received a 68.5 run block grade in 2021, Thomas has gotten a 90.8 mark this season, the highest among all tackles and second-highest among NFL O-linemen.

Outside linebacker Justin Houston currently leads the Ravens with two sacks on the season. Odafe Oweh has also added a sack, as has Jason Pierre-Paul. The former Giant has played the last two games with Baltimore and added two pass breakups.

View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens.

ILB Tae Crowder

Tae Crowder has stepped up in the middle of the Giants' defense over the past month. He has been on the field for every defensive snap in three of the first five games and played at least 25 percent of special teams snaps each week. Crowder ranks second on the team with 28 total tackles. He's also added a sack, a forced fumble, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.

Crowder will be tasked with the difficult challenge of helping to contain Lamar Jackson. The quarterback has rushed for 374 yards and two touchdowns on 49 attempts this year, good for a league-high 7.6 yards per carry. He appears to be on his way to his third season topping the 1,000-yard rushing mark, as well as his third year leading the NFL in rushing yards per attempt. His 374 yards on the ground well above any other quarterback (Jalen Hurts ranks second with 269).

"I'd say another significant challenge just like it was last week," Daboll said before Wednesday's practice. "This guy's extremely talented in all facets. His winning percentage since he's been a starting quarterback is 75%, which is one of the tops. He plays with his arm and he plays with his legs. He's a dynamic player, he's one of the best in the league."

S Julian Love

Heading into the season, it was discussed how safeties have thrived in previous seasons playing in Wink Martindale's defense. Well, we have seen this come to pass again with the performances of Xavier McKinney and Julian Love. Although McKinney leads the team with four pass breakups, Love has a team-high 36 total tackles. Love also has registered three tackles for loss, one shy of team-leading Jihad Ward, and added a sack and a forced fumble. His 71.7 pass rush grade ranks 14th among safeties this season.

Love will be tasked with matching up against Ravens tight end Mark Andrews for at least some of Sunday's game. Andrews has been dominant through five games, racking up 32 receptions for 349 yards and four touchdowns. He has reached 89 receiving yards in three of five games and has also scored in three of five games. His 80.9 overall grade currently ranks second among tight ends, only behind Kansas City's Travis Kelce (87.4).

*On Sunday, October 16, the Giants will be celebrating Latino Heritage Month in partnership with Ford and supported by Dunkin' and PNC Private Bank. Fans will be welcomed with several plaza festivities, including: Sampling of Latin cuisine, live DJ, Latin style dance exhibition, Super Bowl trophy on display (weather permitting), and more. The festivities will take place on the plaza between MetLife and Verizon gates.

For more details, visit: Giants.com/Los-Gigantes

Former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder met with the Giants at practice on Wednesday.

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