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5 Things We Learned

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5 Things We Learned: Jalin Hyatt 'feeling confident'

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The Giants were back at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center Friday as they continue preparations for Monday's game against the Packers.

The two teams faced off last year at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, a game in which the Giants emerged with a 27-22 victory. 

Giants coordinators Wink Martindale, Mike Kafka and Thomas McGaughey spoke to the media Friday for their weekly press conferences, as well as running back Saquon Barkley.

Here are five things we learned ahead of the primetime matchup.

1. Giants 'rejuvenated' following the bye

The Giants returned to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Monday following their Week 13 bye. It was the latest the Giants have had their bye week since 2001, when they were also off in Week 13. With 12 games down, the team returned to the facility rested and ready for the last few weeks of the season which consists of five consecutive games against NFC opponents.

Not only did the time off allow the players some time off to rest, but it also allowed the coaches some time to examine the playbook and make adjustments for the final month of the season. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka told the media Friday how useful the time off was for the coaching staff to prepare for the final stretch.

"That time during the bye week is invaluable for the staff, for the players to number one to get kind of rejuvenated just with some off time, but also to kind of go back and look at some of the things that we can improve on and we did that with not just the quarterback position but every position in our unit as a group, how we can improve in the run game, the pass game, all those kind of areas," said Kafka. "We dug down deep as a staff and looked at a bunch of cutups, whether it was ourselves, around the league, what teams are doing, and how we can improve."

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 14 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

2. Kafka: Hyatt 'feeling confident with himself'

Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt is coming off the best game of his rookie season. The 22-year-old wideout set new season-highs with six targets, five receptions and 109 receiving yards. Hyatt had receptions of 22, 29 and 41 yards against the Patriots, the team's three longest plays of the day, as he became the first Giants receiver with at least three receptions of 20 or more yards since 2021. This led to him being named the Rookie of the Week.

Hyatt's 330 receiving yards on the season ranks third on the team, while his seven receptions of 20 or more yards trails Darius Slayton by one. Meanwhile, Hyatt's three receptions of 40 or more yards is tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. Kafka praised the rookie for his growth throughout his first year in the NFL.

"I think he's done a nice job as he's building out throughout this season," said Kafka. "I think each week is a little bit different in the game plan and how it kind of formulates based on the defenses we're playing, but I think it will continue to grow. I think he's feeling confident with himself, confident with the offense and you can see that as well."

3. Wink: Packers have 'a lot of talent'

Green Bay enters this week's matchup riding a three-game winning streak, due in part to some strong performances from the offense. The Packers have scored 27, 29 and 23 points, respectively, over their last three contests, while topping 375 total yards of offense in each of their last five outings. During the win streak, quarterback Jordan Love has completed 68.5 percent of his passes (74 of 108) for 857 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions with a passer rating over 105 in each outing. Green Bay is also the only team in the NFL with three wide receivers with five or more touchdown catches (Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, Christian Watson).

Coaching has also played a significant role in their recent success. The Packers come into this matchup with an impressive 16-0 record in the month of December under head coach Matt LaFleur. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale was complimentary of the Green Bay offense ahead of Monday's game.

"With Green Bay, Matt has done an outstanding job with his offense, and you can really see it's catered around the quarterback and it's Matt's personality of his offense, which is in the family of San Francisco with (49ers Head Coach) Kyle Shanahan and the Dolphins with (Head Coach Mike) McDaniel and (Rams Head Coach Sean) McVay in LA, and it's definitely a tough out," Martindale said. "The receivers, that's a deep room. The running backs, a deep room. When I say deep room, they have a lot of talent – maybe the deepest rooms in the league. Those young guys are really playing well. They've got some good football players over there. I think (Packers Offensive Line Coach) Luke Butkus has this offensive line playing really well together. So, it's going to be a great challenge for us."

Speaking of Reed, the rookie wide receiver has also made a big impact on special teams for the Packers. The 5-foot-11 rookie has returned nine punts for 87 yards on the season, good for an average of 9.7 yards per return. Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said the coverage unit is aware of the talent the rookie has as a returner and will keep a close eye on him come Monday.

"Jayden's talented, a talented kid," McGaughey told reporters Friday. "We worked him out, I worked him out this spring at Michigan State and he's a very talented kid. He has a lot of ability, he can stick his foot in the ground, he can make people miss and he has really good straight-line speed. We've got to do a good job – I was showing the guys tape of him today, we've got to do a really good job of just taking care of our business and being where we're supposed to be as far as leveraging the ball and keeping it inside."

4. Injury updates; Dex back at practice

The Giants got one of their leaders back on the practice field Friday as defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence participated on a limited basis. Lawrence missed the Week 12 matchup against the Patriots due to a hamstring injury and was unable to get on the practice field to start the week. The 26-year-old was listed as limited on Thursday's injury report, although it was an estimation as the team did not actually practice. Friday was Lawrence's first actual practice since before the Week 11 game against the Commanders.

Offensive tackle Evan Neal was sidelined for Friday's practice. The second-year tackle has missed the previous three games and five of the last six due to an ankle injury. After missing the first few practices of the week, Neal's status for Monday's game is in doubt.

"That's not something that I can control necessarily, so I don't really want to harp on it too much," Neal said earlier in the week. "But in life, unexpected things happen. So, I'm really just rolling with the punches, controlling everything that I can control so when the opportunity does present itself for me to go back out on the field, I'll be ready."

Tight end Daniel Bellinger was also missing from practice because of an illness.

Defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson (hamstring), safety/inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons (ankle) and inside linebacker Carter Coughlin (hip) were all listed as limited for the second consecutive day.

Meanwhile, quarterback Tyrod Taylor was a full participant in Friday's practice. Taylor is eligible to be activated off injured reserve this week and had his practice window opened on Monday. If Taylor gets through the week without any setbacks, he will serve as the backup quarterback behind Tommy DeVito, Daboll announced Tuesday.

5. Saquon talks Man of the Year honor

Earlier this week, running back and team captain Saquon Barkley was named the Giants' nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is the league's most prestigious honor and acknowledges NFL players who excel on the field and demonstrate a passion for creating a lasting positive impact beyond the game in their communities.

All 32 club nominees will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season. The winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special, on Thursday, February 8. Barkley, who was also the Giants' nominee last year, will look to join Eli Manning (2016) as the only Giants players to win the award.

Each of this year's nominees will receive up to a $55,000 donation, and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice.

"It's an honor," Barkley said Friday. "One of 32 men in the NFL to get nominated for that award, it's truly a blessing. Being a running back, being a fan of the history of the game, learning about Walter Payton, knowing his legacy on the field and off the field, and getting to spend time with some of the Payton family last year because I was nominated. Like I said, it's truly an honor and it's a good thing.

"It's a good thing to be – you want to win that award but it's a hard award to win because it's 31 other guys doing just as good as your doing. When you've got 32 guys, and even more, doing spectacular things in the community, it's not a bad thing."

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

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