EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants have brought Kadarius Toney along slowly since his activation from the Reserve/COVID-19 list last week, but the rookie wide receiver seems poised to accelerate his training camp activity.
"I feel good. I'm good," Toney said after a light practice on Thursday. "You see me out there doing stuff today, so I'm feeling good."
Toney is a young man of few words whom the Giants hope has a big impact on the field this season. The team's first-round draft choice is a multi-dimensional wideout from the University of Florida who can line up in the slot or outside. He could be more heavily involved Friday, when the Giants are back in full pads.
"He's doing more and more every day," coach Joe Judge said. "We're pleased what he's doing on the field. He's progressing physically at a nice rate. Right now, we're kind of building toward next week with a lot of these guys. They'll continuously work throughout today's walk-through, tomorrow, and Saturday as well, and see how they feel coming out going on Monday."
Toney said, "I'm still working day by day to get better. … I feel like I'm getting better every day, learning the playbook more day-by-day."
Toney spent his time in COVID isolation studying the Giants' offensive playbook.
"I want to contribute as much as I can to the team, so that's what it takes," he said. "It was pretty tough from like a mental standpoint. But talking to coach Judge every day, talking to the coaches, looking at the playbook and knowing what I can do, having the impact I can have when I come back, it wasn't that bad."
The coach charged with ensuring that Toney's impact is maximized is offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
"We're excited about Kadarius," Garrett said. "Unfortunately, we haven't seen a ton of him yet and we're ramping him up here over the next few days, but you can tell he's someone who picks up football easily. We saw that in the rookie minicamp. We're excited to get him out there and just see what he can do. There were a lot of positive things on tape from college – obviously, that's why we drafted him as high as we did, so we're just excited to see him out here on the grass."
Toney also returned 13 punts and 15 kickoffs for the Gators and will be among several contestants getting a look at hose positions.
"Kadarius is just like all the rest of these rookies, he's gotta earn his way," special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. "He's no different than a rookie free agent out of Georgia Southern (defensive lineman Raymond Johnson III). I mean, he's gotta earn his way, he's gotta earn our trust, he's gotta earn his teammates' trust and that's just the reality of the situation because nobody comes in here and is given anything. You're going to earn everything you get."
What excites McGaughey about Toney as a potential return specialist?
"We all saw the tape about the kid," McGaughey said. "We've seen it. He has speed, he has quickness, all those things. But this ain't the Swamp. This is the Meadowlands."
*Guard Shane Lemieux returned to the field Wednesday for the first time since he was carted off the field a week ago with a knee injury.
"We're ramping up right now," Judge said. "He'll be active through a walkthrough today. Today's the fourth day, we did three days in a row, high tempo and pads. Today is a back down day with more of a mental day teaching on the field. We'll go at a much slower pace. It's a walkthrough, at the most, it should be a slow jog if anything. We're going to control the tempo and the volume on our players. Shane will participate fully in this. I'd say if it was a full practice, he'd be doing less and he'd be building up to it. We'll see how he feels tomorrow and how much we can allow him to do tomorrow."
*Two veterans - linebacker Todd Davis and offensive lineman Joe Looney - retired this week within four days of joining the Giants last Saturday.
"Both guys were great guys," Judge said. "We looked forward to coaching both of them. In the brief time we had both of them, they both made strong impressions. Todd, obviously for his own personal situation, we talked. I'm not going to disclose what we talked about in the office, but we left the door open in terms of if something were to change in the future. I think this guy has got ability. I think he would have been here and competing with our players. He would've been on the field for us if he had a spot on the team. In terms of Joe, a tremendous amount of respect for this guy as a person. As a player, I've known him through the league. We had a very, very good talk yesterday morning.
"These are tough decisions on guys. As you get vets later in their career, they start training camp, it's not uncommon for this to happen. Now, you don't want it to happen, but you have to respect the decision each person makes for their family. I'd say in both these cases, not to speak for the players, but both of them had family situations that they had to attend to, and that was a large part of the decision. I think both guys could've helped us. We left the door open for both guys based on what may open up in the future. If they change their mind and something goes, but they made the strongest impression, personality wise, mentally in the meetings, and on the field, both guys did show enough improvement. I mean, the time was short, but we knew them both from being vets in the league. We respect them both. To be honest, we'd like to have the option to keep coaching both. But we respect their decision and are wishing the best going forward to their families."
*Linebacker Reggie Ragland passed his physical and returned to practice. He had been on the reserve/non-football injury list with a hamstring injury.