EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Judge's focus regarding Nick Gates is as it would for any injured player, which is to prioritize a return to good health and then to the field.
"My perspective is getting him back healthy, keep him focused on being a player when he comes back, and in the meantime do everything you can to help him stay involved with the team," Judge said today.
Gates was injured last Thursday against the Washington Football Team. With about six minutes remaining in the first quarter, Daniel Jones threw a short incomplete pass to Saquon Barkley. Gates and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen got tangled up, and Gates suffered a fracture of his left lower leg. An air cast was put on the leg and Gates was carted off the field. He remains in a Washington-area hospital.
"Without going into details because that wouldn't be fair, he has a couple of things and Ronnie (Barnes, the Giants' senior vice president of medical services) and the doctors told us this is not uncommon with the surgery he had, with the injury he had," Judge said. We had some people from the organization go down and obviously, the players have been in contact with him, the coaches have been in contact with him."
Gates is understandably antsy.
"We're trying to do some things to entertain him a little bit, keep his mind going down there," Judge said. "We'll see if we can get him an Xbox or something. The guy is in a bed all day, so we're trying to do something to take his mind off it. When he gets back, obviously, we'll keep this guy as involved as we can."
Gates made his team-high 19th consecutive start in Washington, but his first at left guard. He moved over from center – where he had started the previous 17 games – when Shane Lemieux was sidelined with a knee injury that was surgically repaired this week.
The Giants' starting line now includes two players, center Billy Price and left guard Ben Bredeson, who were acquired via trade on Aug. 30 and 31, respectively.
"Those guys have done a really good job in the first couple of weeks," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "They've had a lot of injuries up there, a lot of moving parts, different guys in there and real credit to the guys who have come in. We have three guys (including Matt Skura) who have come in here in the last 10 days to two weeks who have played a lot of snaps for us. A tribute to them - professional players, prepared. You can tell they're veterans, guys who have been around football a little bit. They've transitioned well. Credit to (offensive line coach) Rob Sale and the guys working with the offensive line to get them ready. Again, moving parts, but that's the situation we're in right now and we've just got to respond the right way. They've done a good job so far."
The Giants took the practice field Thursday to continue their prep for this weekend's matchup against the Falcons.
*Garrett has been in the NFL as a player or coach since 1992, so he has seen his share of emotional exchanges between teammates and between players and coaches during the heat of a game. To him, wide receiver Kenny Golladay's admission early this week that his brief but much-replayed outburst in Washington was directed at him wasn't newsworthy to Garrett.
"That stuff happens on sidelines all the time," Garrett said. "We ask our players when they're between the stripes to go out there and compete and battle and scratch and claw and we can't say when they come to the sidelines all of a sudden we're choir boys again. We understand that. I've been on the sidelines for a long, long time, so that happens. But he and I had a good visit after the game. It was not an issue at all. Going forward, there's always better ways to handle things. As you go forward, better ways to communicate, but it wasn't a big deal to me and to our team at all."
*The Giants' first two opponents, Denver and Washington, averaged 413.5 offensive yards, or 64.2 more than the defense surrendered per game last year. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and his players have worked hard to improve as they prepare for Sunday's game at home against the Atlanta Falcons.
"If we don't win, it's not good enough," Graham said. "I don't care what the score is. That's just how we're built. We've got a group of selfless guys that want to win. Nobody cares about their stats. Nobody cares about what the next contract is. We just know for the guys in that room and the camaraderie we build in that building over there and out here on this field, we want to win for each other. That's how I feel, that's how they feel, that's how we talk about it, so if we don't win, I highly doubt anybody feels good. I don't, so that's what we're working towards today.
"The focus is on today – third down, finishing up early downs, getting a jump start on the red area. The focus is on today to put our best out there on that field on Sunday at one o'clock and give us a chance to win. That starts with me putting them in the right spots, us executing on the practice field and then going out there and seeing what we can do on Sunday."
*Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey was asked about the offside penalty called on Dexter Lawrence, which gave Washington's Dustin Hopkins a second opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal last week.
"It's like anything else," McGaughey said. "It's just keying the back tip of the ball. We talk about it all the time and it's just one of those deals. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In this case, he had to learn. It's a hard lesson to learn, but you've just got to be disciplined in that situation. He had five or six times before to see the mechanics of what went on. It's tough, but that's part of growing and learning in this league.
"We're just watching the ball. It's no different, he does it every day, every play on defense. You know what I mean? It's like at the snap of the ball, you're keying the back tip of the ball. It's just, he made a mistake. That's just part of it."
*Linebacker Cam Brown (hamstring) was the only player to miss practice today. Defensive lineman Austin Johnson (illness) and safety Nate Ebner (quad), who did not work yesterday, were limited, as was rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (ankle).
Players limited for a second straight day were running back Saquon Barkley (knee), tight ends Evan Engram (calf) and Kaden Smith (knee), Golladay (hip) and safety Logan Ryan (hamstring).
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons.