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Devontae Booker steps up with Saquon sidelined

DEVONTAE-BOOKER

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Devontae Booker totaled 507 yards from scrimmage in 2020 for the Las Vegas Raiders, who let him leave following the season and join the Giants as a free agent. His former and current teams will clash Sunday in MetLife Stadium, so surely Booker wants to exact some revenge and show the Raiders they erred by not keeping him.

"Not really," the soft-spoken Booker said today. "It's just another team, go out and just play and have fun as I do every week."

Does he have special feelings playing against friends and a former team?

"Shoot, I don't really have any special feelings," Booker said. "Like I said, it's just another team to go out and play and just have fun as I do every week."

Booker can be excused if a Raiders reunion is not foremost in his mind this week, because he has both his health and workload to focus on.

Running backs coach Burton Burns tested positive for COVID-19 this week, has been away from the team and will not coach the game Sunday. The Giants had numerous false-positive COVID tests, but two backs who are in the meeting room with Burns and Booker – Saquon Barkley and Gary Brightwell – were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday. Barkley was activated today, and Brightwell remains on the list, though coach Joe Judge said he "has a chance to clear as well."

Booker conceded he was nervous when he got tested.

"I'm not going to lie, I was because everybody – they made all of us test and I'm starting to think on it and going to the trailer and standing in line for forever just to get my test," he said. "I'm like, 'I hope this isn't anything positive.' But I'm all good and ready to roll."

He's had plenty of room to spread out in the running backs room.

"It's been pretty much me in there," he said with a laugh. "I'm looking around like, 'Where's everybody at?' But it's been tough, but just got to learn how to work through it and be safe.

"(It's been) me, Sandro (Platzgummer, who is on the practice squad) and (fullback) Eli (Penny). There were days like that pretty much all of this week. Coach Burns has been at home, Saquon, Gary now and so it's just been dropping like flies by the day."

Offensive assistant Jody Wright has taken over Burns' duties this week.

"Jody's been doubling down this week, so he's been pretty good," Booker said.

Barkley, who has an ankle sprain, will miss his fourth consecutive game Sunday, which will continue Booker's run as the Giants' lead back. He has a team-high 64 rushing attempts for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Booker has also caught 17 passes for 138 yards and one score.

On Monday night in Kansas City, Booker had a career-high 125 scrimmage yards (team-high totals of 60 rushing yards, 65 receiving and five catches).

"I got a little bit into a groove getting some touches and (was) able to be in the open field and run and help my team out in any way I could," Booker said. "It's just being prepared and going out there and when my number is called – I have an opportunity to just go and play. That's really been the main thing for me week in and week out, just going out and having fun at the end of the day."

That's true no matter which team he's playing.

*The Raiders are 2-0 under interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who replaced Jon Gruden. Bisaccia is in his 20th year as an NFL special teams coordinator, including five seasons (2013-17) in that role for the Dallas Cowboys under Jason Garrett. Bisaccia was Garrett's assistant head coach the last three of those years.

"I love him," Garrett, the Giants' offensive coordinator, said this week. "He was our special teams coach in Dallas, and I've known him from my time playing in Tampa. In my last year of playing, he was the special teams coach down there, and he's been a good friend for a long time. He's a hell of a football coach. He did a great job for us in Dallas, and he's doing a great job out there with the Raiders.

"He's someone who deserves an opportunity like this. He's been a really good coach for a long time. He's really had a positive impact on a lot of players through the years and a lot of teams through the years. Again, he helped us immensely in Dallas. It's certainly unique circumstances. I think he's handled it beautifully. They played really well since he's taken over. There were a lot of things thrown at him in a short period of time, and he handled it great. It doesn't surprise me one bit."

*Bisaccia was a diehard Giants fan growing up on Staten Island. Among head coaches that took over their teams during a season, he can become the first to win his first three games since Gary Moeller took over the Detroit Lions at midseason in 2000 and led them to three straight wins.

*The Giants, who are off next week, have one of the NFL's best records in a game prior to a regular-season bye:

  • Seattle Seahawks 27-6 (.818)
  • Minnesota Vikings 23-10 (.697)
  • New Orleans Saints 23-10 (.697)
  • Dallas Cowboys 22-11 (.667)
  • Giants 21-11 (.656)

*The Raiders lead the series with the Giants, 8-5. Their 24-17 victory on Dec. 3, 2017, in Oakland broke the Giants' three-game winning in the series. The game is perhaps best remembered because Eli Manning didn't play, ending his streak of 210 consecutive regular-season starts. The teams have faced each other just once in MetLife Stadium. On Nov. 10, 2013, Andre Brown rushed for 115 yards and one touchdown in a 24-20 Giants victory. This has been a series of streaks – Oakland won the first three games, the Giants the next two, the Raiders won four in a row, and the Giants won three before the Raiders' triumph four years ago.

View rare photos of the history between the Giants and Raiders ahead of their Week 9 matchup.

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