EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton joined the Giants together as members of the 2019 draft class and quickly developed a partnership that continues to strengthen.
"I've said this before – we're like an old married couple," Slayton said today. "You roll over, wake up (and) see each other for 70 years. You know what every hair on her head looks like at some point. I feel like I know what every hair on his head looks like. So, it's just familiarity."
That bond is helping the Giants on the field. After overcoming a three-game start in which he was largely invisible, Slayton has become one of the most vital components in the team's passing attack. He leads the team's wideouts with 33 catches for 566 yards. Runner-up Richie James has 31 receptions for 300 yards.
In the Giants' 20-20 tie with Washington on Sunday, Slayton had team-high totals of six receptions for 90 yards, including a 55-yarder that tied his career long.
Slayton has at least 60 receiving yards in five consecutive games, tying him with Las Vegas' Davante Adams for the NFL's longest active streak. His 17.2-yard per-catch average is third among all players with at least 30 receptions. He trails only Buffalo's Gabriel Davis (19.0-yard average on 35 catches) and Kansas City's Marquez Valdes-Scantling (17.8 yards on 33 caches).
"I think I'm definitely playing at a pretty solid level," Slayton said. "Definitely have had some moments here and there I'd like to have back, but I try to go out there and make every play that I can to the best of my ability."
One of those plays he'd like a redo occurred with 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter on Sunday, immediately after the Commanders had tied the game. On first down from the Giants' 25-yard line, Jones threw down the field for Slayton, who leaped for the ball at the Washington 40-yard line, had it in his hands but couldn't secure it before hitting the ground. The Giants soon punted.
"I was kind of not real happy after the game, mostly because of that," Slayton said. "I was playing almost a flawless game, so to speak. I think I was six for six before that point. And I had it. What really kind of kept me up was that I had it in my hands, and on the way to the ground, it somehow got away from me. It's just kind of one of those things that it is what it is. I got to do better next time.
"It's kind of different than just a cold drop. If it were to hit your hands or go through your hands, (it's like), 'Alright, I just dropped it. I got to get my hands together or whatever.' But in that case, I knew I had it. I just didn't, somehow, secure it. So, that's what bothered me about it. But got to move past it and make it next time."
That is more challenging than it sounds. This week, the Giants host the Philadelphia Eagles, who are an NFL-best 11-1. The Eagles will bring more than just a gaudy record to MetLife Stadium. They are first in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 178.5 yards a game. Philadelphia has a league-high 15 interceptions (though six are by safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who is on injured reserve with a lacerated kidney). Philadelphia has arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL in Darius Slay and former Giant James Bradberry (who have combined for six picks).
"Two veteran corners," Slayton said. "They're smart. They both (have) played football for a long time. They understand their games individually. They're kind of different. Brad (Bradberry) is a bit of a bigger, heavier guy, physical. Slay is a little lighter, but he's got great hips (and) good speed. I think they've played well this year."
Bradberry played two seasons with the Giants before joining the Eagles this year.
"He's a really good player." Jones said. "He's smart, you can tell he studies a lot. He knows what teams are trying to do, what route concepts they're trying to run. He's a good football player, a true pro."
Will Bradberry know more about Jones than a corner who didn't practice against him for two years?
"I think possibly," Jones said. "We spent a lot of time going against each other. He probably does, but it's a different offense, a different scheme and we've got different guys – that's certainly part of it, too.
"It goes both ways. I think we both understand each other's skillsets and that'll be part of the game."
Slayton said teams have not changed how they cover him despite his increase in production.
"Not super specifically yet," he said. "I think they're aware at this point that I've made a couple plays down the field. And I think teams are aware they don't want me to do that (laughs). It's been a little bit of that, a little (bit of) guys being further back and that type of stuff, but nothing too crazy yet."
Slayton was inactive for the season opener in Tennessee before playing just four snaps the following week against Carolina. In Week 3 against Dallas, he played 14 snaps and caught his first pass of the season.
Since then, Slayton has averaged 49 snaps and 3.7 catches a game.
His coaches have expressed their admiration for how Slayton responded to his early disappointment to become one of the offense's most important players.
"They definitely have said that obviously because we're in New York," he said. "It's already hard enough. We've got plenty of outside noise as it is. They've definitely said they appreciate the way I went about everything. It just kind of was the way I was raised to handle things: Just go to work and keep your head down. It's worked out for me so far."
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*Four Giants players missed practice today due to injury: defensive lineman Leonard Williams (neck), cornerback Adoree' Jackson (knee), and offensive linemen Joshua Ezeudu (neck) and Shane Lemieux (toe).
Three other players were given veteran rest days: guard Mark Glowinski (who has played 99% of the offensive snaps this season), defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (84.8% of the defensive snaps) and safety Julian Love (94.6% of the defensive snaps and 53% of the special teams snaps).
Four players were limited: cornerbacks Darnay Holmes (shoulder) and Nick McCloud (hamstring), wide receiver Richie James (knee) and defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux (knee).
Wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who did not play against Washington because of an illness, practiced fully.