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Giants Now: Nate Burleson tabs Darius Slayton as 2020's under-the-radar player 


Nate Burleson names Darius Slayton as season's under-the-radar player

Darius Slayton put together a strong rookie season last year. After missing the first two games of 2019, Slayton went on to grab 48 passes for 740 yards with eight touchdowns, the latter matching Tennessee's A.J. Brown for the NFL rookie lead.

His eight touchdowns are tied for the third-most by a rookie in franchise history, two behind Bill Swiacki (1948) and four off Odell Beckham Jr.'s record (2014). Slayton also ranks fifth in receiving yards and is tied for sixth in catches on the Giants' all-time rookie list.

Last year's 171st overall pick finished second among all rookies in touchdowns and fifth in receiving yards despite being the 18th wide receiver taken in the draft.

With the 2020 season officially underway, NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" crew each chose one player that they believe is flying under-the-radar heading into Week 1. Former wide receiver Nate Burleson tabbed the Giants' second-year receiver as his selection.

"He might not be familiar to you, but Darius Slayton went off," Burleson said. "Last year when there were so many things going on with this offense- Daniel Jones trying to get his footing, wide receivers being banged up, Golden Tate was suspended- Darius Slayton came in and led the Giants with in receiving yards with 740.

"You know who led the NFL rookie wide receivers in touchdowns? A.J. Brown. Do you know who tied him? Darius Slayton with eight TDs. The dude was everywhere, and he did this in a year that had so many question marks. Now you have a quarterback that is the man for the future and has a rhythm with you. I want to tell you guys this. It might not be crazy to think that this dude ends up being the number one wide receiver for Daniel Jones this season."

Saquon Barkley aspires to be 'complete back'

Saquon Barkley aspires to be something he already is, because it will help him achieve something he wants.

"I want to be elite overall, whether that's in the pass game or the run game," Barkley, the Giants' splendid running back, said today. "But at the end of the day, it's about winning games. If I can do that by helping my team in the pass game, then that's the case. If that's by helping them in the run game, then that's the case. If it's by stepping up and making that key block, we might throw the ball 40 times a game and I might have to be responsible for key blocks, then that's what I have to do. It's not just focusing on just me being elite. It's whatever it takes to help the team win."

By any objective measure, Barkley is already one of the NFL's very best running backs as he enters his third season, which begins Monday night in MetLife Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In his first two NFL seasons, Barkley rushed for 2,310 yards on 478 carries, a 4.8-yard average. He also caught 143 passes for 1,159 yards. Barkley scored 23 touchdowns, 17 on the ground. He was the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, the first player in Giants history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and joined Carolina's Christian McCaffrey and New Orleans' Alvin Kamara as the only NFL players to total more than 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in 2018-19. Last Dec. 22, Barkley set a franchise record with 279 yards from scrimmage (189 rushing and 90 receiving) in an overtime victory at Washington. Barkley's 279 yards was the highest total by any NFL player in 2019.

Those and so many more Barkley statistics are, um, elite. But he will strive to post better numbers and be a more well-rounded player when he hits the field Monday night.

"When I think of a complete back, the best complete back, the backs that come to my mind are the Walter Paytons, the Marshall Faulks," Barkley said. "When you think of Walter Payton, if you see clips or highlights of his in-between tackles, outside tackles, catching, blocking, there are even times he's throwing the ball. I'm not saying I can throw the ball as far as Walter Payton. I'm not hinting a trick play coming up.

"But those are things. I don't want to be just a special interior running back. I don't want to be just a special outside the box running back, catch the ball here and there. I truly believe that with my God-given ability and the work that I put in that I can be special in all phases. All phases, not just one dimensional. That's something that I've been working on. I want to be elite in running the ball. I want to be elite outside the tackles. I want to be elite in pass pro. Be elite in catching the ball. Those are things that I truly believe I can be, and those are things I'm going to continue to work for and strive to be."

View photos of the history between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Notebook: Joe Judge restarts practice; decision coming for starting center

Joe Judge so disliked the beginning of this afternoon's practice he ordered the players to repeat it.

Early in the scheduled two-hour practice, Judge gathered the team around him on the field, voiced his displeasure with what he'd seen and directed them to start the workout over – including the stretching.

The two team captains who spoke to media via Zoom afterward considered it the absolute right decision. This was an important session, because after today the Giants have just two full workouts before their Monday night season-opener at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I love it, I love it," running back Saquon Barkley said of the second practice beginning. "That's something that we knew we were going to focus on. Everything we do is going to have purpose behind it. Coach didn't like how we started off, so we had to start over. As captains and as leaders of the team, we had to step up to the challenge and I think that we responded. The thing is that on Monday, there won't be any restarts. We have to find a way to have that energy and find a way to have that purpose from the beginning. It shouldn't take a restart for it to happen. But that was the case, that was a challenge that coach presented us with and I believe we responded the right way as a team."

Linebacker Blake Martinez, a five-year veteran and first-year Giant, said "that was definitely the first time" he had participated in a practice reboot.

"It was one of the moments where we didn't come out the right way and we need to kind of refocus and get things going again," Martinez said. "We did that and had to bounce back and show our resolve and our ability to adapt. As a team, understand what we're doing wrong and come back and fix it."

Martinez said Judge's directive achieved his desired result.

"It was really cool how everybody took it in a positive way," he said. "It wasn't kind of like here we go, why are we doing this? It was just like, hey this is what we need to fix, we need to make sure we get this right. I think we all understand how big this first week is to kind of set a statement for ourselves as a team and what we want to be moving throughout this season."

Photos: Giants ramping up for Monday Night Football

View photos from Thursday's practice heading into Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers.


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